Speed Bump's Tub

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prettyremarks

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Hi all!

I figured I would share little Speed Bump's enclosure with you all to see if I could get any recommendations and suggestions on what else I might could include in it.

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(Yep, little piggy had just been fed and was chowing down.)

Her actual "box" is a plastic tub that I happened to have bought about a week before she arrived.. and so the sweater tub ended up being the tortoise tub! Right now I have a Powersun 100W UV bulb on the "warm" side - which reads generally at about 100-110* right beneath the lamp in the basking spot. (Definitely never below 95* and never above 110* but sometimes with our crazy weather we'll have a random cold day in our fall and a random hot day in our winter, so the house may be a bit warmer/colder than we like to keep it sometimes!) On the "cool" side, I have a CHE - 50W I believe - that I only turn on at night. Just beneath the CHE, the temperature averages at around 75-80*, sometimes a little warmer.. but never cooler than about 75*

For substrate I've used the coconut coir and Speed Bump has decided to decorate her box with pieces of lettuce that she'll carry off from her food dish.. so there's the occasional piece of withered lettuce or various other veggie that I'll uncover which she's hidden.

I just recently purchased a little rock hide for her and two dishes. I think she definitely liked those changes, because previously I was just using a Triscuit box and a tupperware lid for food/water.

I plan on adding some flat rocks in there - maybe a couple of small round ones.. and perhaps a transplanted plant or two, once I decide which kind I can keep in there without causing my allergies to run amuck.

Also yes, that is a refrigerator that she's sitting on top of, which conveniently houses all my beverages and Speed Bump's food. Her tub is a little too wide for the fridge.. but thankfully she's not in a high traffic area. I had a couple of other places picked out for her, but Speed Bump's sisters are two very curious kitties and while they most likely wouldn't do anything, I didn't want to risk it! So the good thing about being on the top of the fridge is that the cats can't get to her even if they tried. (Unfortunately, they're goofy enough to have tried already and when they failed they decided it wasn't fun anymore!)

So please, if you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm definitely in this for the learning experience and I know there's no better way to learn than to ask the advice of others who have been successful or are going through the same thing as myself. :)

Thanks!
Mea (and Speed Bump)
 

TortieLuver

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Looks great:) a couple suggestions: all of my hatchling love the fake vines/plants from a craft store of dollar store...just plain green vines I use and lay on the substrate. It doesn't get too hot and they all love it. I have never had one want to climb walls or flip over...it really seems to add a sense if security. The other thing is I always keep a water container in my setups (everybody is different and some people don't) but I don't put it along the edges because i they do try to climb, they usually climb of perimeter, corners especially and you dont want them flipping into their bowl. I think someone of her lost their tort to that a couple years ago if I am recalling correctly. Just a thought:) looks fabulous and well researched:)
 

sibi

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Do you have a temp guy? The fridge can get really warm on top, and if you have all the heat lamps at certain spots, she may not have that much of a cool spot (75-80 degrees). Make sure you actually see her climb the water dish because she may never notice it. What about humidity levels? Your tort should have between 70-90 % humidity, especially in her hide. Covering half to 3/4 of the top opening should hold in good humidity levels. Tom has some really good threads that you should read to properly take care of your baby. Read them if you haven't already. Keep us posted w/pics.
 

TortieLuver

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Oh a couple more things~ I love your tortoise's name:) and also your temp is a tad high but I'm wondering what you are using to read temps? There are some out there that simply read incorrectly. I am quite familiar with the bulb you are using and the space between the bulb and substrate is adequate so I'm curious on the temp
 

ChiKat

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Speed Bump- ha!! What a fantastic name. I used coco coir (mixed with sand which I would not recommend) when Nelson was a hatchling. I was very pleased with how it held moisture and helped keep the enclosure humid. I used to pour hot water on it and mix it all up. The top would gradually dry, but it would be warm and damp underneath where he burrowed.
 

prettyremarks

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TortieLuver said:
Looks great:) a couple suggestions: all of my hatchling love the fake vines/plants from a craft store of dollar store...just plain green vines I use and lay on the substrate. It doesn't get too hot and they all love it. I have never had one want to climb walls or flip over...it really seems to add a sense if security. The other thing is I always keep a water container in my setups (everybody is different and some people don't) but I don't put it along the edges because i they do try to climb, they usually climb of perimeter, corners especially and you dont want them flipping into their bowl. I think someone of her lost their tort to that a couple years ago if I am recalling correctly. Just a thought:) looks fabulous and well researched:)

I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday and was wondering about fake plants, but I really didn't know if it was safe. I was afraid that there might be something (paint, etc.), that would be harmful or that she might try to eat them - have you ever had this problem? But I'm glad to know that my original thought of fake plants from the craft store wasn't unheard of!

She was really bad about going to the corner and burrowing down, which I attributed to the fact that there were clear sides.. so I opted to put the food/water dishes in the corner and that's stopped her from digging to China (for now). Instead, she just goes and sits in her food dish and watches what's going on in the room. I've never seen her try to climb except for when she's soaking in the evenings.. but I think I'll move her water dish (at least) out away from the corner. I definitely didn't think about her trying to climb and then flipping herself over into the water!

sibi said:
Do you have a temp guy? The fridge can get really warm on top, and if you have all the heat lamps at certain spots, she may not have that much of a cool spot (75-80 degrees). Make sure you actually see her climb the water dish because she may never notice it. What about humidity levels? Your tort should have between 70-90 % humidity, especially in her hide. Covering half to 3/4 of the top opening should hold in good humidity levels. Tom has some really good threads that you should read to properly take care of your baby. Read them if you haven't already. Keep us posted w/pics.

Definitely planning on getting a temperature gun at the beginning of the month. I have 3 types of thermometers that I'm using - one is a pretty expensive kitchen grade thermometer that you use to stick inside of meat to check and make sure it's done.. and then I have two stick-ons that are cheapo's. I don't like any of the three I have and I know that the kitchen thermometer is the most accurate of the bunch, which is what I'm basing the temps in the OP on.

And she definitely climbs all in her water dish. When I first put it in - upgrade from the tupperware lid - that was the first thing she went to. I've caught her soaking herself multiple times, too. :) I've been spraying off the substrate whenever she's in the other tub soaking with an entire large spraybottle of water, which has been keeping the moisture at about 50% (lower than what I'd like). I'm going to talk to my Dad and see if he can't rig the top of the tub's lid so that it's cut in half in order to help keep moisture in (and to keep the heat in at night whenever we have chilly evenings) and I'm going to start adding more water. I can't believe how quickly the substrate soaks up the water!

TortieLuver said:
Oh a couple more things~ I love your tortoise's name:) and also your temp is a tad high but I'm wondering what you are using to read temps? There are some out there that simply read incorrectly. I am quite familiar with the bulb you are using and the space between the bulb and substrate is adequate so I'm curious on the temp

I've been keeping an eye on the cold and warm side and I'm hoping once I get the temperature gun I'll be able to get a more accurate reading on both sides. Prior to setting her tub on there, I never noticed the top of the fridge being hot but rather quite cool... but that's not to say that it doesn't get warm.

I noticed the thermometer was reading lower than usual yesterday evening, right as we got a cold front in. So I think this evening I'm going to have to drop her CHE down a little to make it warmer. I noticed she was outside of her little cave asleep (not burrowed), when usually she's wide awake and waiting for her breakfast.. so I think because of our temperature drop in the middle of the night she might have been a bit cold.
 

Team Gomberg

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i second the suggestion for a covered top with holes cut out for the lamps. this way you can keep your humidity up and the pyramiding down.
 

prettyremarks

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So for the last two nights I've been putting water into the substrate in Speed Bump's box and mixing everything around to make it moist. My [cheap] moisture gauge says that the moisture is from 70-80% in the two days. Generally it's been dropping when the UVB light is on and the substrate starts to dry out. However, I've noticed a decrease in Speed Bump's activity. She just seems less active, a little more sluggish, etc., she hasn't been walking on her track much. I also noticed this morning that there were some bubbles coming out of her nose. (However, she was eating and I had just unburied her from her little hole.. so I assume that can also be a cause of bubbles.) When I first got her, prior to adding moisture to the substrate, she would romp all over the place and would try to dig in the corners of the tub. Now it's just eat, go into the hide, sleep. She's still eating.. but what really has me concerned is that when I went to turn her UVB lamp on and the CHE off this morning, she had completely buried herself on the cold side far away from the CHE and her hide. (I'm sure you can imagine my panic attack when there appeared to be no tortoise in the tub!)

I have experience with raising chickens and I figured that tortoises were the same way. When they're cold, they bundle themselves together beneath the heat lamp. When they're hot, they move out and away from the heat lamp. However, she's never been buried herself like that before and she is always under her hide in the mornings.. and the temperatures I was reading in the hide was 60* on one thermometer and 75-80* on the cheap Petco stick-ons last night.

My thermometer that I *thought* was my best one has been giving me some pretty wonky readings.. but apparently whenever the CHE is going at night, the temperature was reading 60* This, obviously, did not seem right seeing as how my house is kept at 70-75* at night. At least I don't think adding moisture would cause that significant of a decrease compared to room temperature... but since she was a little sluggish and hadn't been acting as she normally had, I'm a bit concerned. It just didn't make much sense to me for her not to be at least beneath the CHE or near it if she was cold, assuming her getting too cold would attribute to the sluggishness.

I went ahead and ordered a temperature gun online - that should be here by Wednesday - so hopefully I'll have a more accurate idea of what my temperatures are. I also have my Dad working on cutting holes out for the lid to the tub so that we can try to keep some of the heat and moisture in the habitat. I've also been toying with the idea of moving her tub off of the mini fridge and putting her beside my desk, simply because whenever I bury the thermometer in the substrate, it's reading a pretty low temperature. I just wonder if the fridge's inside temperature is actually making the top the tub is sitting on cold.

Because of the bubbly nose (no mucus - it appears dry), I've been keeping a close, close eye on her. Especially since I've heard that moist and cold certainly isn't good for them. I hear no wheezing, her eyes look normal and unswollen, her nose is dry aside from the bubbles, she doesn't yawn excessively or have a gaping mouth, and she's only made a noise that sounds like a sneeze once while she was eating. (I had just put calcium powder on her food, though.) However, I'm super paranoid now.

I'm going to be making a run to Wal-Mart this afternoon to see if I can't find some other type of thermometer that can get me by until the gun comes in... then I may end up running by the local feed store to see if they have any heat bulbs (we call them brooder bulbs for chickens, but they're the red heat bulbs), as my CHE is only 50W and I'm not sure if that's putting out enough heat for her. That way I can make changes as necessary based off of what all of my thermometers are reading for temperatures.

If anyone has any more suggestions as to what I might could do, please please share! I'm a pretty nervous first time tortoise owner!
 

lovelyrosepetal

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I am not sure what to think. I know you need it hot and humid. You are never supposed to get below 80* with all that humidity it is courting disaster. I would post this in the health section to find out what others think about everything. I would also pm Neal. He has a lot of experience with Leopard tortoises. Another good person to pm is Tom. He is super helpful and knows everything when it comes to sulcata hatchlings. I would imagine that since Leopards and Sulcatas needs are very similar that he could help you out. He also has Leopards so I am sure that you could not go wrong asking him. As to the bubbles, it could be the beginnings of an RI. Please move this question to the health section and then pm Tom or Neal, or both and see what they say. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

Tom

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Your night temps are too cold. In a house that is 70, a reading of 60 would be reasonable for an open box with damp substrate and all that evaporation going out into the room. This is MUCH too cold and you have now induced a respiratory infection. Catch it early and you might be able to stop it. Go turn that CHE on right now and leave it on 24/7 for at least a couple of weeks. Hot temps might help your baby recover without any vet bills or harsh injections. You need to maintain an ambient of 85 or higher day and night for a while to kick the RI.

Temps and humidity are very difficult to maintain in an open topped enclosure. A low sided tub like yours is really a worse case scenario where this is concerned. The conditions inside your tub want to equalize with the conditions out in the room. It is a constant and futile struggle. Buy or build a closed chamber and all these troubles just disappear.

Your water bowl will work much better if you sink it into the substrate, so its flush.
 

prettyremarks

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Tom & Lovelyrosepetal - thanks for the reply!

This morning, shortly after I read your reply, I looked over and realized that my UVB never came on this morning. (Thankfully it was only about 10 mins. after it was supposed to.) I thought I had blown a breaker, but after trying different plugs which I knew worked still, trading out different bulbs on the lamp, checking various other methods, and a lot of pretty words later... I realized that the lamp/hood itself had something wrong with it. Thus, a trip to Petco/Petsmart was in order.

Needless to say, I have given up on the plastic tub. It obviously wasn't working for humidity/temps, despite keeping the container partially closed except for the areas where the light domes were located when they were on. I picked up a Exo Terra terrarium, some different hides, a new dome, a new CHE (just in case I needed a higher wattage with the difference in height in relation to the substrate, and some fake plants. Unfortunately, the fake plants were a bust because she kept trying to eat them. As always, I have to figure out how to keep moisture and heat in.. but the temperatures have improved very much thus far. Having just turned the UVB on 15 mins. ago, the temperature on the hot spot is 91, and on the cool side (with the CHE going, as per Tom's suggestion), we are reading a temperature of 81 after about 10 mins. with the 50 watt. I'm keeping an eye on the temperatures and figured I could break out the 100 watt if it didn't reach 85.

Right now I have towels laying over the top to keep it more enclosed. I didn't realize it but the lid that came with this particular terrarium/vivarium (I'm not sure what the correct term is) has 2 pieces of plastic across the top to make four quadrants - I assume to offer stability - so I'm a little hesitant to put my UVB straight down on top of the plastic pieces. Once my Dad gets home, he said he would take a look at it to see if we could remove one of those pieces of plastic for the larger dome/hood to fit on to at least get it an inch or so closer to the substrate. I really think that's all we need.

I also added some rocks and nifty little wood pieces for her to climb and crawl over. She was pretty quick to explore, so I learned where to put things properly and how deep to bury them to keep her from flipping over. I've also buried her water dish and food dish a little more to make it easier for her to climb in and out of. As I said, the fake plants turned out to be a bad idea.. as she wanted to eat them. However, I live on 54 acres and we have a ton of grass (native bermuda mix/some coastal) that I may try transplanting. Others have said that it seems to help the humidity levels, too, so I figure it wouldn't hurt to try.

Her new cage was moved to an area of the room I think is a little warmer, as the tub was on top of the fridge (which has a pretty chilly top) and close to a door leading outside. It's also right by my desk, where I do a great deal of studying and working on the computer throughout the day, so I can keep a close watch on her. I've seen no bubbles in the nose today and I've been watching her like a hawk since we had the fiasco with the dome going out, she still has a huge appetite, and she's been extremely active this evening. (I'm sure changing from a little tub to this new cage was a bit exciting for her.) However, I'll be keeping a close eye on her and the temperatures to make sure that things stay acceptable.

This evening once Speed Bump settles in a bit more, I'll take a few photos of the set up to see if there's anything I can improve on.

Thanks again for all the kind words and for your advice. I never thought I would have grown attached to a little tortoise, but I definitely have... and I'm definitely willing to try to do anything that will make her more comfortable or might improve on her habitat.
 

Neal

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It sounds like the new set up is more suitable for your leopard, can't wait to see pictures!

Yeah, the 60 degrees and all that moisture can be deadly for such a small tortoise. It sounds like you reacted quickly enough though. Has the tortoise been eating today?

Like Tom said, to be on the safe side, I would keep the temperatures no less than 85 degrees around the clock for a few days.

Are you able to get the tortoise some outside time somewhere in those 54 acres of yours? :) Outside time is always good for any tortoise.
 

prettyremarks

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Here is a photo of my "mess" right now.

I'm hoping the doors on the cage won't be a burden in the long run, but at the time of purchase it seemed very convenient since it's hard for me to reach down into an aquarium/cage being in a wheelchair. It was also the only cage they had that would fit in the area that I needed it to and was deep enough to really give Speed Bump some room to move around. (The other option was a 24"x12" fish aquarium, which was a significant downsize from what she had originally.) I was really, really excited because it appeared I could remove the plastic pieces on the lid so that I could set the lights flush against the wire mesh but as my father and I found out, that was not the case. I have the lamps on stands right now that are about 3/4 inch higher than the plastic and wire mesh and that seems to be keeping a good bit of the heat in and I can raise it as needed to make it cooler if it gets too hot in the evenings.

I saw in another thread that someone used aluminum foil in order to help keep humidity and temperatures higher. Beneath the blue towel, I have stuck aluminum foil on and tomorrow I'll cut out a hole for the deeper dome. Then when the large CHE is off, I'll cover the back corner that the smaller CHE is sitting on with aluminum foil. I have a towel over both for now, figuring that would help a bit too.

As of right now I'm reading 65-67% humidity on three gauges and I'll spray everything down again before I go to bed. I have 3 thermometers in there (different brands/kinds), and I have 82-83* on the back corner farthest away from the CHE, 88* the one directly underneath the CHE, and the one right in the middle along the back wall is going back and forth from about 85-86*. In the corner that Speed Bump is in (back corner on CHE's side), I'm guessing it's very close to 85*. I really hate to open up the front of the cage to move thermometers around again because I'm wanting to check again in a couple of hours to see if the temperatures have maintained the same once the AC unit kicks on here in a bit. *crosses fingers* I think I will feel much more confident about temperatures when I get the temperature gun in. I'm definitely counting down the hours until the mail runs on Wednesday!

And yes, she's been eating very well for me today. In fact, when I came home from the store at about 4PM, she was out and active even without her UVB light going and the temps down from normal. I had just placed a regular desk lamp on her and had the 50W CHE going until I came back with a new dome. She ate all but a few leaves of red leaf lettuce this evening and I saw her drink multiple times.

Unfortunately the outside temps here have been about 55* during the daytime, so I haven't been taking her outside. I've desperately wanted to, however! Texas tends to have 90* weather one day and then it drops to 45* within a couple of hours... That is okay, though, because I need to pick out a nice little spot and identify all the weeds/plants in that area to make sure they're edible. And I believe I'm going to try to plant some grass seed (or something) in her old tub so that at least I can take her out when it does warm up a bit, even if it's for a little bit on the porch or out in the barn. I'm guessing at about 80-85* would be safe to take her out?
 

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Neal

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Things look pretty good, except I would recommend a humid hide made out of a small plastic tub. The towel very close to your MVB would make me nervous...but I'll let you make that call. Your temps and humidity sounds good!

When they're in direct sunlight, they can elevate their body temperatures to where they need to be even if temperatures are in the 60's. As a rule of thumb, I put young tortoises outside when it's 70 - 75 in the shade. That way if they hide in a shaded corner in their outside pen, they won't get dangerously cold.
 

prettyremarks

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mainey34 said:
Maybe some plants to pretty it up...

Working on that today! :) I've been checking through photos of weeds and different grasses that are native to here to see if I can identify them. Most of the grass we have is native bahiagrass with some coastal mixed in as grasses. For weeds, I know we have oodles of them.. so it's just a matter of going out and determining which ones little Speed Bump might like.

Neal said:
Things look pretty good, except I would recommend a humid hide made out of a small plastic tub. The towel very close to your MVB would make me nervous...but I'll let you make that call. Your temps and humidity sounds good!

When they're in direct sunlight, they can elevate their body temperatures to where they need to be even if temperatures are in the 60's. As a rule of thumb, I put young tortoises outside when it's 70 - 75 in the shade. That way if they hide in a shaded corner in their outside pen, they won't get dangerously cold.

I'll have to see if I can break into some more of the tupperware and have my Dad help me cut a hole into it. Originally I had a little plastic rock cave in there and she *loved* it. However, it won't really fit in the new cage.. so I grabbed two of the log hides from the store.

When I have the MVB bulb on, I move the towels faaaaar away from anything that is heated. I am super paranoid about fire hazards, so I try to be on the lookout for anything that might catch fire or spark. As of now, the plastic on the lid doesn't seem to be affected at all by the MVB or the CHE.

I woke up throughout the night to check the temperatures in the cage and it seemed to stay about the same. 87* under the CHE, about 85* in the middle, and 83* on the far side. However, once the air kicked on and the house dropped to about 68*, the farthest side dropped to about 72*. I'll be adjusting the AC schedule so that it doesn't get so cold, because it's ridiculous when I'm so cold *I* don't want to get up! Then I'll be placing one of the better thermometers on that side to see what the readings are. I figure I could always turn on the smaller CHE if necessary.. but hopefully that won't be necessary!
 

prettyremarks

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JessiKY - thank you! :)

Just an update...

I seem to be doing a bit better on humidity levels and temperatures. I'm working on a combination of CHE's and the MVP to see which combination works best for adequate temperatures. I'll also be investing in a thermostat for the CHE's because I think I'll feel a bit more confident on temperatures - especially during the evening. Then I won't feel the need to get up and check temperatures every hour or so throughout the night!

I ended up finding foil tape at Home Depot and taped up the top with that. (Aluminum foil + Mea = big, humongous failure with lots of aluminum foil wasted) I can see a big improvement with that.

My humidity is staying anywhere from 75-90% right now with just a 2x misting/day and a good soak of the coir every other day - or so it looks. So I'm very pleased with that.

Today, my basking spot reached a bit higher than I had hoped it would. I came home after running out to eat lunch and discovered the basking spot was at 109*. I've read that's an acceptable temperature, but it still makes me a little nervous. I ended up moving the light a bit higher and that at least lowered it to where the highest that I saw was at 98*. I'll definitely be continuing to check this over the next couple of days to make sure that the temperatures are consistent. My cool side, with just the MVP on during the day, only went to about 77* - however I ended up turning on the CHE to bump that up to around 85* per Tom and Wellington's suggestions for now since my temps dropped so low a few days ago. However, after a few weeks - is the 77* a relatively safe number for the cool side? Or should I go ahead and shoot for about 80*?

Last night I kept both the 100watt and 50watt CHE on and it was a little warmer than what I had anticipated it to be... but every time I turned the smaller CHE off, the temps would start to really drop. So I just opened up the top a bit more in hopes of keeping the temperatures as close to 85* as I could possibly get it. Again, I think with a thermostat on the CHE, that will help to regulate things a bit more both for daytime and for night.

Also still working on getting some weeds/grass into her little enclosure. I had a professor throw us a surprise research paper and have had to really hit that hard. That will be soon, however, and I'll definitely get some "finished" pictures put up here. (Finally!)

Annnnd.. still waiting-- anxiously-- for my temperature gun to arrive. :)
 
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