Single Tortoise Night Box

ofafeather

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Joined
Feb 19, 2024
Messages
61
Location (City and/or State)
Mid-Hudson Valley, NY
Well, night box is done and out in the enclosure! I will post pics later in the week when it is settled. We’re kind of in a heat wave here in the mid-Hudson Valley. We put the box where we think we would like it but it had full sun in the afternoon and interior temps were over 100. I opened the box and threw an umbrella over it but it temp stayed up. Sun finally moved and temp is in the high 80s in the box. What’s a safe and comfortable max temp? If it’s too hot would she just not go in and find her own cooler spot or do we need to be concerned that daytime temps would be cool enough in the box? We are considering moving it to a shadier spot or making our own shade. Thoughts? Solar heating would be helpful in the spring and fall but summer might be rough.
 

Tom

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Well, night box is done and out in the enclosure! I will post pics later in the week when it is settled. We’re kind of in a heat wave here in the mid-Hudson Valley. We put the box where we think we would like it but it had full sun in the afternoon and interior temps were over 100. I opened the box and threw an umbrella over it but it temp stayed up. Sun finally moved and temp is in the high 80s in the box. What’s a safe and comfortable max temp? If it’s too hot would she just not go in and find her own cooler spot or do we need to be concerned that daytime temps would be cool enough in the box? We are considering moving it to a shadier spot or making our own shade. Thoughts? Solar heating would be helpful in the spring and fall but summer might be rough.
Anything under 100 is safe, but I like to keep the boxes cooler as a safe retreat for sulcata that don't have a burrow to use.

Its July. Everyone is having a heat wave right now. We hit an all time record here for the 30 years I've lived up here of 120 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, and now its only hitting a high of 98 today, which is normal for us. 118 was the previous record, which I have seen for one day two times in previous summers. We seldom get that high, but it happens every few years. What is you daytime high temp during your heat wave there in NY?

For about 3 months of every year, our daytime high is consistently between 96 and 104. During this time, the interiors of my insulated boxes get up to around 88-89. During particularly hot spells like the other day, they get up to 91-93 inside, but cool off at night here. It dropped to 67 the morning after that super hot day, and that is also typical here. We get cool nights all summer long, but then its roasting hot again by 8 or 9 am. I plug the boxes during this time of year. They drop into the 70s on a cool night, and warm back into the 80 by the next afternoon each day.

I'm throwing out all these number for you to compare to. Do you have the clear vinyl strips covering the door opening when the door is open? Those help a lot, but they act like a greenhouse if the sun is shining directly into your box in the morning. I've started using white corrugated roofing panels to keep the tops of my boxes cooler in summer. These help a lot. I also put "Easy Ups" over some of them that are in full sun all day in the summer time. A large umbrella would certainly work too. A decent quality large umbrella goes for about $60-70 here. I can get a decent 10x10 foot Easy Up for $100-120 and this gives me a lot more shade and holds up better for longer, but I have used both over the years.

Some of my tortoise pens are giant cages that were originally built for large monitor lizards. I throw sheets of plywood and corrugated roofing tin panels over about half of the cage every June for shade, and then take it all down every November for full sun in winter.
 

ofafeather

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Joined
Feb 19, 2024
Messages
61
Location (City and/or State)
Mid-Hudson Valley, NY
@Tom Thanks! Number-wise we can’t compete. Right now we’re in the high 80s but the humidity is extremely high so the heat index is bubbling over. Not sure why it got so hot in direct sun but the sun just seems stronger these days. I like the ideas you suggested and will definitely experiment. We’re not letting her in the box yet until we have a good handle on temps. Yes, I do have the clear vinyl freezer strips over the door way. Tomorrow I will see where the sun travels and take some different temp readings thought the day. I have a few extra rigid insulation panels. Think they would help on the roof? Thanks again.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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64,188
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@Tom Thanks! Number-wise we can’t compete. Right now we’re in the high 80s but the humidity is extremely high so the heat index is bubbling over. Not sure why it got so hot in direct sun but the sun just seems stronger these days. I like the ideas you suggested and will definitely experiment. We’re not letting her in the box yet until we have a good handle on temps. Yes, I do have the clear vinyl freezer strips over the door way. Tomorrow I will see where the sun travels and take some different temp readings thought the day. I have a few extra rigid insulation panels. Think they would help on the roof? Thanks again.
I do think the panels on top would help. Your thermometer will confirm or deny. A bit of overhang casting shadows on the sides, front and back will help too.

The humidity doesn't affect reptiles the way it does us. We use evaporative cooling and high humidity inhibits evaporation, so we feel hotter in high humidity. Our tortoises don't do this, so humidity doesn't make them feel any hotter. That heat index stuff doesn't apply to them. You might feel like you are in an oven and you are going to melt, but to your tortoise 88 is 88. That is a comfortable temp for a sulcata, but I'd expect them to stay out of the sun once they are warmed up and temps are that high.
 

ofafeather

Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2024
Messages
61
Location (City and/or State)
Mid-Hudson Valley, NY
@Tom Thanks! Number-wise we can’t compete. Right now we’re in the high 80s but the humidity is extremely high so the heat index is bubbling over. Not sure why it got so hot in direct sun but the sun just seems stronger these days. I like the ideas you suggested and will definitely experiment. We’re not letting her in the box yet until we have a good handle on temps. Yes, I do have the clear vinyl freezer strips over the door way. Tomorrow I will see where the sun travels and take some different temp readings thought the day. I have a few extra rigid insulation panels. Think they would help on the roof? Thanks again.
I should mention that the temp reading was from the thermostat. Tomorrow I use some other thermometers as well to verify.
 
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vladimir

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May 18, 2017
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1,501
Location (City and/or State)
Pennsylvania
Anything under 100 is safe, but I like to keep the boxes cooler as a safe retreat for sulcata that don't have a burrow to use.

Its July. Everyone is having a heat wave right now. We hit an all time record here for the 30 years I've lived up here of 120 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, and now its only hitting a high of 98 today, which is normal for us. 118 was the previous record, which I have seen for one day two times in previous summers. We seldom get that high, but it happens every few years. What is you daytime high temp during your heat wave there in NY?

For about 3 months of every year, our daytime high is consistently between 96 and 104. During this time, the interiors of my insulated boxes get up to around 88-89. During particularly hot spells like the other day, they get up to 91-93 inside, but cool off at night here. It dropped to 67 the morning after that super hot day, and that is also typical here. We get cool nights all summer long, but then its roasting hot again by 8 or 9 am. I plug the boxes during this time of year. They drop into the 70s on a cool night, and warm back into the 80 by the next afternoon each day.

I'm throwing out all these number for you to compare to. Do you have the clear vinyl strips covering the door opening when the door is open? Those help a lot, but they act like a greenhouse if the sun is shining directly into your box in the morning. I've started using white corrugated roofing panels to keep the tops of my boxes cooler in summer. These help a lot. I also put "Easy Ups" over some of them that are in full sun all day in the summer time. A large umbrella would certainly work too. A decent quality large umbrella goes for about $60-70 here. I can get a decent 10x10 foot Easy Up for $100-120 and this gives me a lot more shade and holds up better for longer, but I have used both over the years.

Some of my tortoise pens are giant cages that were originally built for large monitor lizards. I throw sheets of plywood and corrugated roofing tin panels over about half of the cage every June for shade, and then take it all down every November for full sun in winter.

Anything to worry about if they're "crying" during the night when the night box temps are > 85F? Sometimes I see a small puddle under Vlad's head in the mornings when it is hot overnight
 

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