Opinions on temperature regulation for RF?

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MrBrightside

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Hello all,
I'm sure that some of you have by now read my enclosure thread, and I am kind of hoping to expand on it with some other questions here. I have read the various caresheets available, and spent many hours poring over the usual recommended websites.
My questions are as follows:
I have set my enclosure up utilizing a hot/cool side in order to hopefully allay any issues that may occur during my learning phase. I have a plastic hide box in my enclosure that is 50% filled with moist sphagnum moss. I have placed the temp probe for my helix controller inside this hide, and set the temp for 86 deg F. This Helix is running a 150w CHE that sits about 8 inches from the top of the hide. When the temperature in the hide reaches 85-86 degrees ambient (i have a therm in there as well as the Helix probe) the substrate temp immediately adjacent the hide temps out (with a PE2) at 88-90 degrees. When I shoot the surface temps on the TOP of the hide, they are around 110-120. I realize that the temperatures are going to be higher in this area, but does anyone else have similar numbers or even check this? Am I just getting trigger happy with my temp gun? I have been shooting shell temperatures as well and he seems to be anywhere between 80-85 degrees throughout the day.
Next question: What are the odds of a redfoot with a decent amount of choices as far as temps/humidity making itself sick? In other words, is it possible that a tort might keep itself overly cool or damp in order to avoid other environmental factors? I have a fairly dim UVB light on one end of the enclosure primarily to establish a normal day/night cycle, as it can be quite dark in my apartment. I have tried to provide plenty of choices for my tort; one hide is 86 deg and damp, one hide is 79 degrees and dry, and there are "hot" and "cool" piles of damp moss. Am I failing to give due credit to the common sense of my animal?
Final question: I have noticed that my tort avoids his/her water dish; I am soaking on a biweekly basis at this point just to mirror the previous conditions in which the tort was kept, but is it likely or probable that a tort will become dehydrated even with fresh water and damp moss available?
Thanks in advance for your consideration, I hope that I'm not beating any dead horses here. I'm just kind of hoping that the TFO community can "sanity check" me here. Most of my reptile knowledge is in Varanids, and they seem comparatively simple to me for the most part.
 

Yvonne G

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I'm hoping a redfoot person will come in and help you, but in the meantime, I've read that you don't need a hot/cold side with redfoot tortoises. Seems to me I've seen it said here that an even temp in the 80's is ok. Also, you don't need to invest in an expensive UVB/MVB because the redfoot can utilize the UV that you get from the tube light. Seems like I remember Terryo saying she uses a 5.0 tube light. And they don't put out any heat, just UVB (flourescent).

I just responded to keep the thread open until a more experienced RF person answers you. I'll bow to other experience! :p
 

Balboa

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You're a keeper after my own heart, I was in your shoes not long ago, reading temps, checking every little thing around the clock. I wanted it perfect. Of course, I was also nursing sick animals that were completely new to me in every respect. At the same time I really appreciate someone that doesn't wish their animal to get sick in the first place and pays attention to these things, unlike my torts' previous owners.

As long as your tort is healthy I would trust them to meet their needs, as long as the necessary options are available. The problem comes with sick/unhappy torts, they seem to be willing to waste away and neglect their needs. Leave it to observation. If they seem somewhat active, moving about occasionally to fulfill different needs all SHOULD be well. When they park themselves under a basking light or in a cold spot and never move, I take that as a sign that something's wrong.

Yvonne is correct in that the general consensus among redfoot keepers SEEMS to be that no gradient is required and a mid 80's ambient will suffice. I still like to provide a basking spot myself (from a CHE, not a lamp, and not real hot) to allow them to raise their temps on an as-need basis. If they bask alot, it tells me ambient temps are too low, if never and they seem to spend most of their time in the coolest part of the enclosure, temps are too high, etc..

Some controversial stuff:
Many keepers suggest no uvb lamp is needed for redfoots, as there should be some vitamin D in their diet, and they should get some sunshine when available. I like to provide UVB in the form of a linear lamp anyways, as I feel they benefit from having some UVA to see by (reptiles can see UV, its like another color to them). I do not like the idea of providing UV lamps without additional full-spectrum lighting however, as I want to balance out the spectrum to closer to natural sunlight and I fear that most reptile lamps put out too high an UV level compared to other spectrums which may cause eye damage due to improper dilation. Other keepers seem to have no trouble with this. I also find they appreciate daylight illumination levels, others insist they like the dark.

Hope some of that helps.
 

LindaF

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I have a whole collection of different heat bulbs until I found the right mix for my RF that made him happy. It seemed I needed to find the perfect mix/balance of heat, humidity, and light. MrBrightside, you didn't mention humidity. Don't forget that key ingredient in creating the perfect environment. I go with mid 80s ambient, but one side and hide in the enclosure is warmer then the other. Right under the CHE it will read 90 with the temp gun. I feel your pain, I drive myself crazy with all the temp probes and temp gun. I know my tort was happy I got the temp gun and stopped resting probes on his back or in his hide :)

Just when I thought I had reached nirvana, then the temps in the house changed. We are at that too hot to use the heater and too cool for the AC stage in the house right now. The weather isn't constant enough to move the guy outside yet full time either. So I am back to adjusting and checking temps again.
 

Madkins007

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Temperatures. There is some debate about thermal gradients vs. all one temp, but the logic behind the 'all one temp' theory is flawed. It assumes that Red-foots come from the rainforest, and rainforests are all one temp- neither of those statements are accurate. Temperature gradients offer the tortoise the chance to find the temps they want for the activity they are doing.

Your temps sound good, but pay more attention to behaviors than to the temp gun. If they seek heat, raise the temps a bit. If they flee the heat, turn it down a bit.

Can it choose a bad microhabitat? Yes. If it is stressed, sick, scared, malnourished, etc. it may settle in and stay even if the hide is too cool or damp. Not a common event, though.

Hydration. Captive torts dehydrate easily. Aim for a water dish that is sunk to the rim, big enough to rest in, deep enough to get most of its head in, and easy to get out of. Clay flower pot saucers make good options. Some drink a lot, some rarely do. If it is getting plenty of fresh, moist food; has good humidity; and is heavy for its size (there is a formula you can use if you want), then don't worry a lot.

Varanids. Tortoises are a more primitive family of animals, and are fairly simple once you understand their home needs and how to reasonably simulate them. For example, the whole UVB thing. Red-foots come from the wet portions of dry savannahs, so get plenty of light and UV in the real world, but some people insist they come from dark rainforests and withhold UV lighting without adequate supplementation.

If you are up for another care sheet, you can try the Tortoise Library in my sig.
 
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