Radiated Enclosure Questions

Syl20

New Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
LONDON
Hi All,

So after a mites issues with my previous enclosure (probably brought by the orchid bark) I have decided to start from scratch again and give my radiated a brand new home and I would like to provide my 2.5 years (28 months exactly) radiated the best environment possible. I would like to summarise my enclosure and what I am planning on using/doing, looking for your feedback and what I could do better.

- enclosure is a 48x24x24 vivarium

- Substrate I am hesitating between sand/soil mixture or going back to bark (baked to avoid mites). Thoughts?

How high should the bed of substrate be? Same height across the enclosure or shall I have raised/lower areas depending on bulb emplacement?
How often shall I change the substrate?

- Lighting: Arcadia T5 12% 39Watts 34 (see below). According to there website, at 40cm/16” height, it should provide 3-4 UVI.

Is 3-4 UVI too high for juveniles?
Also where would I install the bulb? At the back in the middle or/and off center?


- Heating: CHE ceramic bulb on thermostat. Where is the best spot for this bulb?

- Basking bulb: I understand some people do not use basking bulb with juveniles. what shall I do? If it is best to have one, where shall I put it?

- Humidity: only planning on manually spraying/mist a couple of times a day if


- Plants: this time I would like to provide my tortoise with natural plants/decoration. Any advise?

- Water: where would be the place to put the water dish in relation to the lighting?

- Food: So far I have been feeding Mazuri every day with occasional fruits and green leaves. I would love to have more precise directions on this.

any feedback/suggestions is welcome!


thanks everyone!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
56,781
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
It is highly unlikely that you had mites in a tortoise enclosure. Much more likely that you had springtails, or some other harmless detrivore. And they didn't come from the orchid bark. They came from the surrounding environment and simply colonized a warm, damp, food rich environment, and they will again. Go ahead and bake, boil, or freeze it, and tell us if the bugs come back.

Sand or soil should never be used for tortoises. Neither are safe options.

Store bought decorative plants are grow with systemic pesticides. These can last a year and can't be rinsed off. Grow your own in pots from cuttings of mature plants in soil that has no perlite in it. Spider plants and pothos are popular options that work indoors and are safe.

48x24" is too small for a 2.5 year old tortoise. You need to go much bigger than that. 4 times that would be good for a couple of years.

3-4 inches of substrate works well. It doesn't have to be perfectly level. I just dump it in and smooth it out briefly.

Never change the substrate unless you are putting new and different tortoises into the enclosure. If you spot clean daily and remove old food, the substrate will last for years. You can replace it as often as you want, but this is not necessary or helpful.

UVI of 3-4 for a few hours mid day is good for any age, but you need a Solarmeter 6.5 to ascertain what is actually happening in your enclosure. 18-20" is a good stating point for that bulb, but you need a meter to monitor the output. Used for 2-3 hours mid day, which is plenty, the bulb will last for years. No need to replace it every 6 months as some recommend. The meter will verify what I'm telling you. Doesn't matter where you install it. Put it where its convenient and you have room.

Better to use radiant heat panels instead of CHEs. These spread the heat out more. CHEs can work though. I prefer two of them to spread the heat out. They can run on the same thermostat, or run two thermostat for redundant safety.

Basking bulb: I leave this question to those with more hatchling experience than me. @Sterant @zovick @Rodriguez Chelonians It is my understanding that most keepers of this species do not use a basking bulb.

Spraying the surface of the substrate does very little for humidity. If you are using a closed chamber, as you should be, dampen the substrate by dumping water into it. How much water and how often varies tremendously by enclosure. You have to go by feel.

Water dish placement doesn't matter. Put it where its easy to reach and service. Use a terra cotta saucer sunk into the substrate. Make it a bit larger than the tortoise and upgrade the size as needed as your tort grows.

Mazuri is a good supplemental food once or twice a week. I would not feed it daily. They should never be fed fruit. Scroll to the food section of this care sheet for diet ideas and instruction:

Questions are welcome. Feel free to ask them all.
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
33
Location (City and/or State)
California
Hi All,

So after a mites issues with my previous enclosure (probably brought by the orchid bark) I have decided to start from scratch again and give my radiated a brand new home and I would like to provide my 2.5 years (28 months exactly) radiated the best environment possible. I would like to summarise my enclosure and what I am planning on using/doing, looking for your feedback and what I could do better.

- enclosure is a 48x24x24 vivarium

- Substrate I am hesitating between sand/soil mixture or going back to bark (baked to avoid mites). Thoughts?

How high should the bed of substrate be? Same height across the enclosure or shall I have raised/lower areas depending on bulb emplacement?
How often shall I change the substrate?

- Lighting: Arcadia T5 12% 39Watts 34 (see below). According to there website, at 40cm/16” height, it should provide 3-4 UVI.

Is 3-4 UVI too high for juveniles?
Also where would I install the bulb? At the back in the middle or/and off center?


- Heating: CHE ceramic bulb on thermostat. Where is the best spot for this bulb?

- Basking bulb: I understand some people do not use basking bulb with juveniles. what shall I do? If it is best to have one, where shall I put it?

- Humidity: only planning on manually spraying/mist a couple of times a day if


- Plants: this time I would like to provide my tortoise with natural plants/decoration. Any advise?

- Water: where would be the place to put the water dish in relation to the lighting?

- Food: So far I have been feeding Mazuri every day with occasional fruits and green leaves. I would love to have more precise directions on this.

any feedback/suggestions is welcome!


thanks everyone!
At 2 years old I wold use a basking bulb at 90-100 if your enclosure size allows.
 

Syl20

New Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
LONDON
It is highly unlikely that you had mites in a tortoise enclosure. Much more likely that you had springtails, or some other harmless detrivore. And they didn't come from the orchid bark. They came from the surrounding environment and simply colonized a warm, damp, food rich environment, and they will again. Go ahead and bake, boil, or freeze it, and tell us if the bugs come back.

Sand or soil should never be used for tortoises. Neither are safe options.

Store bought decorative plants are grow with systemic pesticides. These can last a year and can't be rinsed off. Grow your own in pots from cuttings of mature plants in soil that has no perlite in it. Spider plants and pothos are popular options that work indoors and are safe.

48x24" is too small for a 2.5 year old tortoise. You need to go much bigger than that. 4 times that would be good for a couple of years.

3-4 inches of substrate works well. It doesn't have to be perfectly level. I just dump it in and smooth it out briefly.

Never change the substrate unless you are putting new and different tortoises into the enclosure. If you spot clean daily and remove old food, the substrate will last for years. You can replace it as often as you want, but this is not necessary or helpful.

UVI of 3-4 for a few hours mid day is good for any age, but you need a Solarmeter 6.5 to ascertain what is actually happening in your enclosure. 18-20" is a good stating point for that bulb, but you need a meter to monitor the output. Used for 2-3 hours mid day, which is plenty, the bulb will last for years. No need to replace it every 6 months as some recommend. The meter will verify what I'm telling you. Doesn't matter where you install it. Put it where its convenient and you have room.

Better to use radiant heat panels instead of CHEs. These spread the heat out more. CHEs can work though. I prefer two of them to spread the heat out. They can run on the same thermostat, or run two thermostat for redundant safety.

Basking bulb: I leave this question to those with more hatchling experience than me. @Sterant @zovick @Rodriguez Chelonians It is my understanding that most keepers of this species do not use a basking bulb.

Spraying the surface of the substrate does very little for humidity. If you are using a closed chamber, as you should be, dampen the substrate by dumping water into it. How much water and how often varies tremendously by enclosure. You have to go by feel.

Water dish placement doesn't matter. Put it where its easy to reach and service. Use a terra cotta saucer sunk into the substrate. Make it a bit larger than the tortoise and upgrade the size as needed as your tort grows.

Mazuri is a good supplemental food once or twice a week. I would not feed it daily. They should never be fed fruit. Scroll to the food section of this care sheet for diet ideas and instruction:

Questions are welcome. Feel free to ask them all.

Hi Tom,

Thanks a lot for taking the time to write all this. A lot of valuable information which is very useful.
A few comments and questions:

- Substrate. Noted, I will put Bark in. You might be right about not coming from the orchid bark but it was definitely mites. I also thoughts it was springtails first but I was getting bitten daily with symptoms that look like scabies. After months of doctors appointment, I started using gloves to handle the tortoise and the symptoms stopped. I managed to sort the problem out now though I can handle her again now without issue.
on the same

- Lighting: So T5 UVA-UVB 2-3 hours a day at midday with a target UVI at shell of 3-4. In addition Flood/basking light for 12 hours a day on a thermostat I suppose? Do I need any other type of lighting?
If some don’t use basking/flood light, what type of light do they use for the 12hours period?

- On the spot cleaningMy radiated rarely poos in the enclosure, almost exclusively when basking. Any reasons for this?

- Humidity: so when you say dampening the substrate do you mean taking the top layer off the enclosure and let it soak in water before putting it back? I hear some use misting system, is this worth it/recommended?

thanks!
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
2,276
Hi Tom,

Thanks a lot for taking the time to write all this. A lot of valuable information which is very useful.
A few comments and questions:

- Substrate. Noted, I will put Bark in. You might be right about not coming from the orchid bark but it was definitely mites. I also thoughts it was springtails first but I was getting bitten daily with symptoms that look like scabies. After months of doctors appointment, I started using gloves to handle the tortoise and the symptoms stopped. I managed to sort the problem out now though I can handle her again now without issue.
on the same

- Lighting: So T5 UVA-UVB 2-3 hours a day at midday with a target UVI at shell of 3-4. In addition Flood/basking light for 12 hours a day on a thermostat I suppose? Do I need any other type of lighting?
If some don’t use basking/flood light, what type of light do they use for the 12hours period?

- On the spot cleaningMy radiated rarely poos in the enclosure, almost exclusively when basking. Any reasons for this?

- Humidity: so when you say dampening the substrate do you mean taking the top layer off the enclosure and let it soak in water before putting it back? I hear some use misting system, is this worth it/recommended?

thanks!
I did not use any basking bulbs for my Radiated Tortoises until they reached about 6" in length.

Your tortoise probably defecates under the basking light because it is warm. The same thing will probably happen if it the tortoise is soaked in lukewarm water for 20 minutes daily.

I raised and bred Radiated Tortoises from 1965 to 2019. If you are interested, send me your email address and I will send you two Radiated Tortoise care sheets which I have written.
 

Syl20

New Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
LONDON
I did not use any basking bulbs for my Radiated Tortoises until they reached about 6" in length.

Your tortoise probably defecates under the basking light because it is warm. The same thing will probably happen if it the tortoise is soaked in lukewarm water for 20 minutes daily.

I raised and bred Radiated Tortoises from 1965 to 2019. If you are interested, send me your email address and I will send you two Radiated Tortoise care sheets which I have written.
Thanks! Sorry typo in my message: I meant to say only defecates when bathing. Very rarely in the enclosure if not ever.

That would be great! Anyway I could send it to you privately? Can’t seem to be able to send you a private message for some reason!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
56,781
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi Tom,

Thanks a lot for taking the time to write all this. A lot of valuable information which is very useful.
A few comments and questions:

- Substrate. Noted, I will put Bark in. You might be right about not coming from the orchid bark but it was definitely mites. I also thoughts it was springtails first but I was getting bitten daily with symptoms that look like scabies. After months of doctors appointment, I started using gloves to handle the tortoise and the symptoms stopped. I managed to sort the problem out now though I can handle her again now without issue.
on the same

- Lighting: So T5 UVA-UVB 2-3 hours a day at midday with a target UVI at shell of 3-4. In addition Flood/basking light for 12 hours a day on a thermostat I suppose? Do I need any other type of lighting?
If some don’t use basking/flood light, what type of light do they use for the 12hours period?

- On the spot cleaningMy radiated rarely poos in the enclosure, almost exclusively when basking. Any reasons for this?

- Humidity: so when you say dampening the substrate do you mean taking the top layer off the enclosure and let it soak in water before putting it back? I hear some use misting system, is this worth it/recommended?

thanks!
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. 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.
  3. 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 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
It is totally normal for frequently soaked tortoises to never poop inside their enclosures. I love this benefit of daily soaking and consider it a huge bonus in addition to all the other benefits.

No need for misting systems and foggers should not be used. Simply dump water onto/into the substrate from a cup, bucket, pitcher, etc... Dump it under the humid hide area, on the flat basking rock area, front corners near where the doors are, anywhere that looks too dry. One thing I do in my closed chambers is dump the water dishes out into the substrate. Assuming there is no feces and only substrate in the bowl, I dump it, rinse it, wipe it out with my hand, rinse it some more, and then refill it all right there in the enclosure. Some enclosures dry out faster and need this daily, while other enclosures stay damp longer and don't need this at all. It varies tremendously and for a wide variety of reasons, and this is why it must be done by "feel" for each and every enclosure.
 
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