Regulating temperature at night. Help required please!

Leam

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Hi all!

Two days ago I became the proud owner of an 8 month old marginated tortoise and have a couple of questions regarding night time temperatures and also eating. I've noticed that my tortoise isn't eating and I've read that it might be down to the fact that he/she isn't warm enough? During the day his/her basking temperature is between 32°c and 35°c and the cool side is about 22°c and 24°c with a top soil substrate with plenty of room for burrowing. The only thing I have noticed is that the temperature at night can get to about 18°c at lowest and I've read that especially with babies, they need a warmer night time temp of around 22°c (correct me if wrong). What thermostat should I get to regulate the temperature? Also, should I use a ceramic heater lamp?

Sorry for the long passage, I'm just a little concerned is all!

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

JoesMum

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Hello and welcome from Kent UK

First let me reassure you that inactivity and not eating are very common with new tortoises.

They frequently don't handle change well and everything is new and scary, including you!

Establish a routine so your tort learns that to feel safe. Something like:
- Lights on (timers make life so much easier)
- Twenty minute soak in warm water before your tort has warmed up properly
- Tidy the enclosure and place food during the soak
- Replace your tort
- Walk away and leave your tort entirely alone to be brave and explore.

Temperatures:
- A baby should be in a closed chamber to raise humidity and keep temperatures up - that means a lid on the enclosure
- Temperature shouldn't drop below 26C day or night
- A CHE (Ceramic Heat Emitter), which must be used with a thermostat, is the best way of ensuring that the ambient temperature doesn't drop too low. The thermostat stops you cooking your tort.

If you would like us to check your setup over, please photos of the enclosure and lighting and we will be happy to help.

I recommend that you read the following guides written by TFO species experts working hard to correct the outdated information widely available on the internet and from pet stores and, sadly, from some breeders and vets too.

Beginner Mistakes
http://www.edugeek.net/groups/independent-school-techs.html

Care of Baby Testudo
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread...or-other-herbivorous-tortoise-species.107734/
 

Gillian M

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Hello @Leam and a very warm welcome to the forum.

Don't worry. We all began from scratch. Just follow @JoesMum 's advise and ask any question when in doubt.

Any pics of your tort and his/her enclosure?
 

Leam

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Thank you both for your replies. Squirtle started eating yesterday and hasn't really stopped since! I have got myself a pulse proportional thermostat and have connected it to a CHE hovering over his sleeping area and it is doing a grand job.

I will attach a photo of his enclosure. I'm using coco coir as the substrate and the plants are Geraniums or 'pelargoniums'. The lamp to the right is a mercury lamp that does uv and heat, but I was considering getting a separate uv strip light for the other side. Would that be worth doing? Or overkill?
 

JoesMum

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JoesMum

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Here's a lighting summary:

Your tort needs:

1. A basking lamp
This must hang vertically, not at an angle. Basking is essential to raise your tortoise's core temperature so it can digest food. This must be on continuously for 12-14 hours and must not be used with a thermostat.

2. UVB light
Read the instructions for the source to see how close to the substrate it must be. UVB is essential so your tort can process dietary calcium and have healthy bones and shell. This must also be on for 12-14 hours.

Both 1 and 2 are available from the sun for those able to live outside.

UVB does not pass through glass or perspex(plexiglass) - light must be direct to be effective not through a window. Mesh screening can also interfere with UVB.

3. A minimum overnight temperature (see the care sheet for your species) and complete darkness at night to sleep.


Notes

(a) A Mercury Vapor Bulb (MVB) provides combined UVB and Basking. Alternatively you can use 2 bulbs: a tube UVB and a reflector bulb for basking (a household reflector - not low energy or halogen - from a hardware store will do the job; it's the wattage that counts) It must not be used with a thermostat, rheostat or dimmer.

(b) Ignore any references to UVA you may read - it's misleading marketing speak.

(c) Compact coil UVB harms tortoise eyes and must not be used.

(d) Basking and UVB should be on a timer so the light(s) are on for 12 hours a day. Temperature under the basking is regulated by its height above the substrate.

(e) Overnight, depending on your home, you may need additional heat. You get this from a CHE (Ceramic Heat Emitter) which must be on a thermostat.

(f) Torts have outstanding colour vision and love red and purple food. Coloured heat lamps colour tank decor and torts don't always apply intelligence to what they eat, resulting them in eating tank decor. Coloured bulbs should not be used.


Measurements

There are 4 important temperatures that you must know for an indoor enclosure.
- Directly under the basking lamp
- Warm side
- Cool side
- Overnight Minimum

You will need digital thermometers for accuracy.

A temperature gun thermometer (inexpensive from Amazon) measures temperature accurately in specific places like directly under the basking lamp.

A min/max thermometer so you know the min/max temperatures in your home by day and night.

You should also get a good digital probe hygrometer to measure humidity.

Thermometers and hygrometer that stick to the side of the enclosure tend to be less accurate.
 

Tom

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...but I was considering getting a separate uv strip light for the other side. Would that be worth doing? Or overkill?

A regular 10.0 tube will make really natural looking light and brighten up the enclosure a bit, but it won't make too much UV. Brighter is better during the day time.
 

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