Safest heating option for AP cage?

FLGirl41

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Hi everyone,

I'm getting ready to move and am going to switch up my juvenile western Hermann's tortoise's enclosure. I am toying with the idea of housing her in an Animal Plastics cage that is somewhere around 6x3x3 feet in dimensions. I tend to be pretty nervous about fire risk associated with heating sources in general. Currently, she's in a Christmas tree bin with a low wattage CHE for ambient heat and a 160 watt PowerSun UVB as her basking spot. Through observation, I'm just not a fan of how dessicating the MVB is. It seems to dry her shell significantly after she sits under it, despite regular soaks and misting of her enclosure. Would a radiant heat panel be a safer and less drying option in her AP setup, or will it even heat the basking area sufficiently if the height of the tank is 36 inches? Alternatively, should I just hang a dome lamp with the Powersun from the ceiling of that cage and hope that the enclosed design will help maintain higher humidity and prevent excessive drying?

I'm new to radiant heat panels in general and would appreciate any advice. Also, if anyone's curious, the reason I'm looking for a 36" high enclosure is so I can have some potted plants in the enclosure to add landscaping and cover for the tort.

Thanks so much!
 

Tom

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The RHP might help to maintain ambient in a cage that tall, but it won't make the area under it any warmer at all. You can hang the MVB in there, but I'll bet $100 that it will over heat the entire cage, unless there is significant venting, which would defeat the purpose of a closed chamber in the first place.

In my closed chambers, I use the following:
1. One or two CHE's hung from the ceiling and set on a thermostat to maintain ambient. For a Testudo species where you want a night drop, simply set the thermostat on a timer. Your CHEs will be off all night, but kick on in the morning when the "sun" comes up.
2. A regular 65 watt FLOOD bulb from the hardware store. I buy them in 6 or 12 packs so I have spares. These make a nice basking area and they don't over heat the entire cage. I adjust the height to get the correct basking temperature under them.
3. A long florescent tube for light. I set this to go on and off on the same timer as the basking lamps. Most of the ones sold are 2500K and they look yellowish to me. I prefer the ones in the 5000-6500K color range. It will tell you this on the package.
4. If needed, I use an Arcadia 12% HO tube for UV. These make strong UV so I only run them on their own timer for about 4 hours mid day to simulate the higher mid-day UV levels outside in the sun. You'd have to hang this down about 12-16" from the ceiling.

You can substitute RHPs for CHEs, but I'm not sure how well they would work in something that tall.

Using a large closed chamber will definitely make it easier to maintain the humidity you want and it will significantly lessen the desiccating effects of the MVB or any other basking lamp.

You will also find that you need a lot less electricity to keep a closed chamber warm when compared to an open table.
 

FLGirl41

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Hi Tom, thanks for your incredibly helpful post. Your bulb combination makes a lot of sense, and you confirmed what I was guessing: the RHP probably won't be a good option in a habitat that tall. I look forward to getting the AP cage and tweaking the lighting and heating before moving her over to it. I'll post updates as they come along. Thanks!
 
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FLGirl41

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I decided to order an Animal Plastics T30 (6x3x2 feet) cage for my Hermann's. I'm also getting another of the same size with a divider in the middle to house my special needs bearded dragon and my super giant leopard gecko (who's almost as big as a beardie himself!) on each side. It looks like the lead time is 8-12 weeks for builds, but I'm excited to start planning the habitats in advance. As my Hermann's is currently in a Christmas tree bin which is roughly 49x20 inches of floor space, this will be quite an upgrade for her. Planning new habitats is always such fun.
 

Markw84

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Hi everyone,

I'm getting ready to move and am going to switch up my juvenile western Hermann's tortoise's enclosure. I am toying with the idea of housing her in an Animal Plastics cage that is somewhere around 6x3x3 feet in dimensions. I tend to be pretty nervous about fire risk associated with heating sources in general. Currently, she's in a Christmas tree bin with a low wattage CHE for ambient heat and a 160 watt PowerSun UVB as her basking spot. Through observation, I'm just not a fan of how dessicating the MVB is. It seems to dry her shell significantly after she sits under it, despite regular soaks and misting of her enclosure. Would a radiant heat panel be a safer and less drying option in her AP setup, or will it even heat the basking area sufficiently if the height of the tank is 36 inches? Alternatively, should I just hang a dome lamp with the Powersun from the ceiling of that cage and hope that the enclosed design will help maintain higher humidity and prevent excessive drying?

I'm new to radiant heat panels in general and would appreciate any advice. Also, if anyone's curious, the reason I'm looking for a 36" high enclosure is so I can have some potted plants in the enclosure to add landscaping and cover for the tort.

Thanks so much!
Have you got the cage yet? According to what I've seen, Animal Plastics does not make an enclosure over 24" tall. You will need to adjust the great advice @Tom gave above accordingly.
 

FLGirl41

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Have you got the cage yet? According to what I've seen, Animal Plastics does not make an enclosure over 24" tall. You will need to adjust the great advice @Tom gave above accordingly.

Hi Mark, I ended up going with a 6x3 footprint that is 2 feet tall (this is their T30 cage). Animal Plastics does make some arboreal cages that are up to 6 feet tall and they can also make just about any custom size you request. I have been very impressed with their level of customer service so far!
 

FLGirl41

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Hi @Tom, I have a question regarding the Arcadia bulbs. As my new habitat will be 24" tall, do you think the 12% Arcadia UVB fluorescent will be sufficient for that height? Or should I bump up to the 14% Arcadia? Thanks in advance for your help!
 

Markw84

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Hi @Tom, I have a question regarding the Arcadia bulbs. As my new habitat will be 24" tall, do you think the 12% Arcadia UVB fluorescent will be sufficient for that height? Or should I bump up to the 14% Arcadia? Thanks in advance for your help!
Are you talking about the T5 HO 12.0? If so, both Tom and I use them I our enclosures which are also 24" high. The HO 12.0 will give a UVI reading of 3-4 if you mount it about 18" above the tortoise. That is what I do. Tom puts his a little closer, more in the 14-16" range and gets just over 5.0 at tortoise level. You do not need to go to the 14.0 bulb. You could go with the 14.0, but it would have to be mounted right to the ceiling of the enclosure to get at least 20"' and then is designed to be installed with plenty of shade options for the tortoise to break up the light intensity. That is a good Idea with the 12.0 as well.
 

Tom

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Hi @Tom, I have a question regarding the Arcadia bulbs. As my new habitat will be 24" tall, do you think the 12% Arcadia UVB fluorescent will be sufficient for that height? Or should I bump up to the 14% Arcadia? Thanks in advance for your help!

Yes, I think the 12% will work well for you. In addition to what Mark said, mine are on timers so they only come on for about 3-4 hours mid day.
 

FLGirl41

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Yes, I think the 12% will work well for you. In addition to what Mark said, mine are on timers so they only come on for about 3-4 hours mid day.
Yikes, I forgot to reply. Thank you for your help!
 

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