Newbie testudo hermanni owner! Feedback please!!

Ras1ka

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Joined
Sep 6, 2022
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Vienna
Hi 👋🏽! Ive been following this forum for a few months now to prep before getting Taco, our 1 year old Testudo Hermanni Boettgeri a few weeks ago.

Taco was in a plastic box (with all the basics) for the first few weeks, and slept a lot. We put him into his new enclosure, which is a upcycled ikea cabinet, and Taco is much more active and seems so happy! He’s always exploring. We also have a garden and let him explore a few hrs a day - but only when it was still warm (I live in Vienna, Austria).

Since I’m a newbie, I’d appreciate some feedback on the enclosure. Am I missing anything? Do you spot any hazards?

Some specs:::
Waterproofing
: The interior is coated with non-toxic, waterproof “boat paint”. It’s paint they use for the outside and insides of boats. And we did a concrete style top coat on to the exterior … which is often used for kitchen counter tops so is also waterproof.

Interior. I kept the inside pretty simple with some plants, water, food, and the bottom right I’ve just planted some tortoise friendly herb and flower seeds which should hopefully start sprouting and blooming in 3-5 weeks.

Heat. I have a ceramic heat lamp that - heats that spot between 26-29 C. Since the enclosure is big, I keep it on all day, the other side is cooler and at 21-24 C.

UVB. We have the following UVB light: Arcadia Pro T5 UV-B Kit (D3+ Desert 12% UV-B, 24W/550mm) - positioned in the back center, and not too far from the heat source. It’s on a timer for 12hrs a day (8am-8pm).

Hiding. I have some plants (non toxic based on my research) and a sideways pot he usually sleeps in. I will open up the right side when he’s a bit bigger, right now we blocked it off for him.

Happy to share more details. :)

Questions:
  • Is it okay? What can I improve?
  • I’m also thinking about putting a full spectrum grow light in there for the seeds, but so nervous if this light is okay for Taco, thoughts? (This one - Parus by Venso E27 LED Plant Lamp Full Spectrum 'Winter' 7 W 120°, Improved Photosynthesis, Higher Chlorophyll Formation, Growth Light for Indoor Plants, Vegetables, Flowers https://amzn.eu/d/5QqpQ1v)
  • One thing I notice, he doesn’t want to sleep as much since this enclosure became his new home. I hope it’s because he’s excited. But let me know if it could be something else?
  • He still scratches the corners, etc though it’s a big enclosure and dark I side. Why could it be?

Thank you!!!
 

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TammyJ

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Hi and welcome to the best forum for tortoises you will find on the net. I like your enclosure! Some more expert people here will help you with any advice. @wellington
 

Yvonne G

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Welcome!

What is that substrate? I'm not a fan of substrate that has little white particles in it. They should not be encouraged to eat their substrate. My choice is fir bark, small or fine grade.
 

TechnoCheese

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Welcome!

Your basking spot is much too cool. Under the heat lamp, it should be 36-38 degrees. Heating elements should not be at an angle, and clamps can be very dangerous, speaking from experience. Your ceramic heat emitter should ideally be facing straight down, either in a dome fixture sitting on metal grating/mesh or hanging from above. You may also need a higher wattage of heater to get the right temps.

Your substrate may also be unsuitable, as tortoises tend to eat the little white bits. What is it?
 

TammyJ

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Yes, what is the substrate? Looks suspicious!
 

Ras1ka

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Hi 👋🏽,

Sorry for the German language links, I live in Austria.

The substrate is a mix of 80% this: https://www.fressnapf.at/p/lucky-re...dium=google_shopping&utm_campaign=google_PMax


And 20% this: https://www.fressnapf.at/p/jbl-terra-basis-5-l-1003476/?isSearchPage=Sand

And I use this near the plants: https://www.fressnapf.at/p/lucky-re...dium=google_shopping&utm_campaign=google_PMax

According to the breeder - all those soils are safe for tortoises.

But I’ll go back and check with the breeder.

- the point about the heat lamp is a good one. I will likely swap it out. I also find it heats also up, not just down.

Thank you!!
 

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wellington

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That substrate has fertilizers in it. It's for growing plants. I wouldn't chance using it.
Coconut coir with orchid/fir bark on top is much better and actually safe.
And yes the basking spot is much too cold. 95-100F for basking or they can't properly digest their food.
 

Ras1ka

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That substrate has fertilizers in it. It's for growing plants. I wouldn't chance using it.
Coconut coir with orchid/fir bark on top is much better and actually safe.
And yes the basking spot is much too cold. 95-100F for basking or they can't properly digest their food.
Thanks for the info, I’ll get some coco coir.

I use the flora gard only for the plant area in the bottom right of my enclosure, not the entire enclosure it’s supposed to be safe for tortoises - it says?
 

Tom

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Hello and welcome.

CHEs are for maintaining ambient temperatures and need to be run on a thermostat. They are not for basking because they produce no light. Looks like you still need a flood lamp for basking.

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.
More info on heating and lighting and substrate here:
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
There's a lot to learn and most of us have made mistakes because we were given or read old information about tortoise care when we started out. If you follow the advice here and Tom's caresheet you'll be able to correct things before your tort is affected, and then you should have a happy, healthy tort. We could save you some money too!
 

Ras1ka

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Joined
Sep 6, 2022
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Vienna
Hello and welcome.

CHEs are for maintaining ambient temperatures and need to be run on a thermostat. They are not for basking because they produce no light. Looks like you still need a flood lamp for basking.

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.
More info on heating and lighting and substrate here:
Awesome thanks for the info! I’ll make some adjustments accordingly :)
 

Ras1ka

New Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2022
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Vienna
Hi and welcome,
There's a lot to learn and most of us have made mistakes because we were given or read old information about tortoise care when we started out. If you follow the advice here and Tom's caresheet you'll be able to correct things before your tort is affected, and then you should have a happy, healthy tort. We could save you some money too!

Yes, appreciate expert advice I’m swapping out my substrate and lighting this week! 🙏🏽

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and advice!
 

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