Red foot humidity, pyramiding, and bugs Help!

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Hi! I currently cant provide humidity to my red footed tortoise due to a bug infestation within the substrate i used, i guess it attracted a ton of bugs. The owners who had him for 15 years before me never gave him humidity and hes survived this long so i dont know how bad this is actually affecting him. My family isnt too keen whatsoever in the humidity when the mindset that hes survived this long, he’ll be fine, but i cant help but worry. I currently am using astroturf as he never burrowed in his substrate we had and because of the bugs. If we have another bug infestation i might have to give him back to his previous owners but i cant do that because they gave him much worse care than i did. Any humidity alternatives or things i could do at all to help for now? Hes around 15 and has a bit of pyramiding. The vet i spoke to said he would be okay with astroturf and without humidity but i need other opinions. I cant do much considering im young but im doing the most i can for him right now. Would a humidifier work and if so would it cause mold or draw in bugs. I have seen mixed reviews on humidifiers and my family isnt too keen to that either but thats mostly all i can think of.
 
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Canadian Mojo

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Is it a closed chamber? A lid to keep the humidity in is pretty much the bare minimum.

The next thing is what were you using for substrate before? If you were just using dirt from outside that was probably your problem. Orchid bark and coco coir are generally sterile so if you don't bring bugs in, they should be fine to use.

If you have to use the astroturf, get yourself a nice big plain terracotta saucer for the enclosure and keep it filled with water. Ideally you stick it under whatever heat source you are using to help with evaporation. Plants in pots he can't knock over will also help keep it humid.
 
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Is it a closed chamber? A lid to keep the humidity in is pretty much the bare minimum.

The next thing is what were you using for substrate before? If you were just using dirt from outside that was probably your problem. Orchid bark and coco coir are generally sterile so if you don't bring bugs in, they should be fine to use.

If you have to use the astroturf, get yourself a nice big plain terracotta saucer for the enclosure and keep it filled with water. Ideally you stick it under whatever heat source you are using to help with evaporation. Plants in pots he can't knock over will also help keep it humid.
Thanks! I was using petstore bought substrate, cant remember what type exactly. I will try the saucer! Should i use that in replacement of his water dish? I tried coco coir but he didint like it and bugs were found in it too. It has a lid but its a screen. Should i cut carboard and make a hole for the light?
 

Canadian Mojo

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Thanks! I was using petstore bought substrate, cant remember what type exactly. I will try the saucer! Should i use that in replacement of his water dish? I tried coco coir but he didint like it and bugs were found in it too. It has a lid but its a screen. Should i cut carboard and make a hole for the light?
Saucers are the recommended water dish since they are easier to climb in and out of and pose less of a drowning risk for baby torts. Something big enough for him to sit in would be ideal because then he can soak if he wants.

Plastic would be better than cardboard, but cardboard will help too. You've got to worry about it getting hot from the light/heaters and being a fire risk depending on your setup. Tinfoil is another option. Ultimately, making him a proper enclosed chamber is the best way to go. In the mean time anything to help keep the humidity in will make thing better. That being said, if he has survived this long, taking some time to figure everything out and come up with a good plan isn't going to be a problem.
 
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Saucers are the recommended water dish since they are easier to climb in and out of and pose less of a drowning risk for baby torts. Something big enough for him to sit in would be ideal because then he can soak if he wants.

Plastic would be better than cardboard, but cardboard will help too. You've got to worry about it getting hot from the light/heaters and being a fire risk depending on your setup. Tinfoil is another option. Ultimately, making him a proper enclosed chamber is the best way to go. In the mean time anything to help keep the humidity in will make thing better. That being said, if he has survived this long, taking some time to figure everything out and come up with a good plan isn't going to be a problem.
Thank you so much. Do i need a ceramic heat emitter for night time? I can send a photo of his habitat.
 
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Unless it stays around 80-85F without one, you will need one.
Thank you. I think im going to buy one. Is a humidifier a good option for astro turf or no? Also, to prevent bugs if i were to get substrate should i not mist the substrate? How should i maintain the humidity?
 

Canadian Mojo

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Thank you. I think im going to buy one. Is a humidifier a good option for astro turf or no? Also, to prevent bugs if i were to get substrate should i not mist the substrate? How should i maintain the humidity?
The main complaint with a humidifier seems to be that it is dumping cool air into the chamber that then needs to heat up and that it is not overly effective compared to the usual method of adding water to the substrate. Should be okay on astroturf, but I don't use the stuff so I can't actually say. It's plastic, so realistically, what could happen to it?

Maybe the easy way to deal with this is to figure out what the bugs were and where they came from. There are a few other Southerners on the forum who have probably had to deal with the same issue and could help on that front. I'm up in Canada so my bugs and stuff are a bit different.
 
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The main complaint with a humidifier seems to be that it is dumping cool air into the chamber that then needs to heat up and that it is not overly effective compared to the usual method of adding water to the substrate. Should be okay on astroturf, but I don't use the stuff so I can't actually say. It's plastic, so realistically, what could happen to it?

Maybe the easy way to deal with this is to figure out what the bugs were and where they came from. There are a few other Southerners on the forum who have probably had to deal with the same issue and could help on that front. I'm up in Canada so my bugs and stuff are a bit different.
Alright! I think im going to try some new substrate.
 

ZenHerper

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If you describe what your habitat was overrun with, people can try to help figure out *what* they are and how to control/prevent them.

Even something harmless (and helpful) like springtails might become a problem in Lousiana where it is humid and warm year-round. Fungus gnats and other wee flies would make a real mess.

There will be a balance point between keeping the substrate damp enough to provide healthful humidity to your pet and making it so wet that it decays and attracts insects that lay their eggs in acidic muck. If you choose a bark chip substrate, you basically add some water every day so that the bark chips stay wet, without any water pooling underneath.

This is a Redfoot? The vet was wrong: this species evolved in a very humid and warm part of the world (South America). It needs an overall stable temperature in the 80-85*F range. No blazing hot spots, no parts of the enclosure cooler than 80*F day or night.

The uneven shell growth that you are seeing means that there is too much dry heat hitting the top of the carapace (top shell). The pyramids are from the keratin curing too quickly under heat bulbs.

Post some photos of the entire enclosure and the lamps you have to work with to get more specific tips.

Thanks for rescuing!
 

Tom

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The bugs are not coming from the substrate. They are harmless detrivores, and they are coming from the surrounding environment. They are simply colonizing the suitable indoor environment that you have created for them.

A 15 year old red foot should be living outside most of the year in your area with a heated shelter. Indoors for the coldest parts of winter makes sense, but then it needs an enormous closed chamber that is kept in the low to mid 80s 24/7. They do need substrate and orchid bark works best. They do not need a humidifier. Instead they need a closed chamber enclosure with damp substrate. There should be thermostatically controlled heat 24/7 for this guy.

It costs a bunch of your time and money to house and heat them correctly, and it takes up a lot of space. If your parents aren't down with that, then give the tortoise to someone who will give it what it needs and care for it correctly. You can get your own tortoise and do whatever you want with your own house and money once you are out on your own. Until then, if its their house, its their rules. Not everyone wants all the hassles and expenses that come with keeping a tortoise in their house, and there is nothing wrong with that. Most "reptile people" had to go through some of this as kids. Unless one or both of your parents are reptile people, they aren't going to want to spends thousands of dollars and devote a whole room in the house to reptiles. That is just the way it is. We can try to help you figure out cheaper ways to do things, but ultimately its up to your parents how far they want to take this.
 
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The bugs are not coming from the substrate. They are harmless detrivores, and they are coming from the surrounding environment. They are simply colonizing the suitable indoor environment that you have created for them.

A 15 year old red foot should be living outside most of the year in your area with a heated shelter. Indoors for the coldest parts of winter makes sense, but then it needs an enormous closed chamber that is kept in the low to mid 80s 24/7. They do need substrate and orchid bark works best. They do not need a humidifier. Instead they need a closed chamber enclosure with damp substrate. There should be thermostatically controlled heat 24/7 for this guy.

It costs a bunch of your time and money to house and heat them correctly, and it takes up a lot of space. If your parents aren't down with that, then give the tortoise to someone who will give it what it needs and care for it correctly. You can get your own tortoise and do whatever you want with your own house and money once you are out on your own. Until then, if its their house, its their rules. Not everyone wants all the hassles and expenses that come with keeping a tortoise in their house, and there is nothing wrong with that. Most "reptile people" had to go through some of this as kids. Unless one or both of your parents are reptile people, they aren't going to want to spends thousands of dollars and devote a whole room in the house to reptiles. That is just the way it is. We can try to help you figure out cheaper ways to do things, but ultimately its up to your parents how far they want to take this.
Hes not a huge redfoot as he can fit on my hand, and i will be using substrate in his habitat and doing as suggested.
 
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Hes not a huge redfoot as he can fit on my hand, and i will be using substrate in his habitat and doing as suggested.
If you describe what your habitat was overrun with, people can try to help figure out *what* they are and how to control/prevent them.

Even something harmless (and helpful) like springtails might become a problem in Lousiana where it is humid and warm year-round. Fungus gnats and other wee flies would make a real mess.

There will be a balance point between keeping the substrate damp enough to provide healthful humidity to your pet and making it so wet that it decays and attracts insects that lay their eggs in acidic muck. If you choose a bark chip substrate, you basically add some water every day so that the bark chips stay wet, without any water pooling underneath.

This is a Redfoot? The vet was wrong: this species evolved in a very humid and warm part of the world (South America). It needs an overall stable temperature in the 80-85*F range. No blazing hot spots, no parts of the enclosure cooler than 80*F day or night.

The uneven shell growth that you are seeing means that there is too much dry heat hitting the top of the carapace (top shell). The pyramids are from the keratin curing too quickly under heat bulbs.

Post some photos of the entire enclosure and the lamps you have to work with to get more specific tips.

Thanks for rescuing!
Here is his current light. Its a uvb bulb :) what should i replace it with if anything
 

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ZenHerper

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Well, you need to know the temperature on the ground surface down where s/he is. The temperature just below the heat bulb should not be higher than 85*F, and the temperature at the ground surface farthest away from the heat bulb should not be lower than 80*F.

You then adjust the location and height of the heat bulb to get the proper temperature range. That's a process of checking the ground temps all around the habitat, then fiddling with the lamp fixture if needed.

Or you may find that the heat bulb you have is too strong for this species (the temps are too high all over), and you need to swap it out for a lower wattage one.

When you update the substrate layer, that may change the temperatures and you have to check-and-tweak again.

I cannot tell what types of bulbs these are and what types of radiation they give off -- heat only? Or a combination of heat-and-uvb radiation?
 
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Well, you need to know the temperature on the ground surface down where s/he is. The temperature just below the heat bulb should not be higher than 85*F, and the temperature at the ground surface farthest away from the heat bulb should not be lower than 80*F.

You then adjust the location and height of the heat bulb to get the proper temperature range. That's a process of checking the ground temps all around the habitat, then fiddling with the lamp fixture if needed.

Or you may find that the heat bulb you have is too strong for this species (the temps are too high all over), and you need to swap it out for a lower wattage one.

When you update the substrate layer, that may change the temperatures and you have to check-and-tweak again.

I cannot tell what types of bulbs these are and what types of radiation they give off -- heat only? Or a combination of heat-and-uvb radiation?
Uvb uva, and heat it is a 80 watt exo terra all in one bulb. It says its sun simulating
 

ZenHerper

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Uvb uva, and heat it is a 80 watt exo terra all in one bulb. It says its sun simulating
OK. Mercury vapor bulbs have been known to be too intense about creating a harsh beam of heat, without providing as much uvb radiation as tortoises need (they don't really use much if any uva). The narrow-style lamp fixture does not help move heat into a wider area. Save up to get a larger fixture (10 inches works really well -- you can get a good price ~$10 at a farm supply store in their chick brooder supplies section).

But let's say that as a Brand New bulb it does provide uvb radiation. You now need to check the ground temperatures all around the enclosure, both while the bulb has been on for several hours, and at night when the lamp is off.

It is easy with a Redfoot to cut down on the harshness of the bulb beam by putting edible potted plants into the enclosure. The pots protect the plants from being eaten, and also help with humidity.
Spider plant, pothos, wandering jew all work well indoors under low light.

Place pots in the center of the enclosure so that there is a long walking track around the outside. Tortoises need a LOT of exercise to stay healthy inside and out. Redfoots are muscular and eat a lot of all kinds of foods -- they need healthy legs and digestive organs.
 
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OK. Mercury vapor bulbs have been known to be too intense about creating a harsh beam of heat, without providing as much uvb radiation as tortoises need (they don't really use much if any uva). The narrow-style lamp fixture does not help move heat into a wider area. Save up to get a larger fixture (10 inches works really well -- you can get a good price ~$10 at a farm supply store in their chick brooder supplies section).

But let's say that as a Brand New bulb it does provide uvb radiation. You now need to check the ground temperatures all around the enclosure, both while the bulb has been on for several hours, and at night when the lamp is off.

It is easy with a Redfoot to cut down on the harshness of the bulb beam by putting edible potted plants into the enclosure. The pots protect the plants from being eaten, and also help with humidity.
Spider plant, pothos, wandering jew all work well indoors under low light.

Place pots in the center of the enclosure so that there is a long walking track around the outside. Tortoises need a LOT of exercise to stay healthy inside and out. Redfoots are muscular and eat a lot of all kinds of foods -- they need healthy legs and digestive organs.
Alright! What plants should i use?
 

ZenHerper

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Spider plant and Pothos are really easy to grow in a habitat and are pretty easy to come by...the safest are plants (or cuttings) you get from friends, family...anyone who does not use pesticides or weed killer in their pots (ones you buy in stores always have dangerous chemicals in the potting mix and that gets into the plants). You can also find people selling baby plants or cuttings on etsy, cr*igslist or other swap/yard sale websites.
 
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Spider plant and Pothos are really easy to grow in a habitat and are pretty easy to come by...the safest are plants (or cuttings) you get from friends, family...anyone who does not use pesticides or weed killer in their pots (ones you buy in stores always have dangerous chemicals in the potting mix and that gets into the plants). You can also find people selling baby plants or cuttings on etsy, cr*igslist or other swap/yard sale websites.
Thanks!
 

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