The Best Way To Raise Any Temperate Species Of Tortoise

Tom

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Hey Tom, what’s the short version on how to build an underground hide for a Russian?
DIg a hole with a sloped entrance. Cover the hole with plywood. Put lots of dirt on top of the plywood. Done.

Use caution as this simple design will flood if it rains.
 

Jeanettics

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DIg a hole with a sloped entrance. Cover the hole with plywood. Put lots of dirt on top of the plywood. Done.

Use caution as this simple design will flood if it rains.
Alright I can do that. Thanks I appreciate it.
I’m in Davis, CA. Rain won’t be an issue 🥲
 

Tom

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Alright I can do that. Thanks I appreciate it.
I’m in Davis, CA. Rain won’t be an issue 🥲
That is what I always say for here too. Lived in this area since 1996. It simply does not rain here at all from about May at the latest until November at the earliest. Frequently it won't rain from February to December. Then, day before yesterday, we had some sort of weird tropical rain storm drop almost an inch of rain in about 15 minutes. That NEVER happens here. We do not get ANY rain in summer, ever. It went from 111 degrees to 76 in the span of 10 minutes. All my tortoises were loving it and spent the rest of the day lounging in puddles.
 

Jeanettics

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That is what I always say for here too. Lived in this area since 1996. It simply does not rain here at all from about May at the latest until November at the earliest. Frequently it won't rain from February to December. Then, day before yesterday, we had some sort of weird tropical rain storm drop almost an inch of rain in about 15 minutes. That NEVER happens here. We do not get ANY rain in summer, ever. It went from 111 degrees to 76 in the span of 10 minutes. All my tortoises were loving it and spent the rest of the day lounging in puddles.
Places that are wet are on fire. Places that are dry are flooding. Chaos.
If we happen to get rain here I’ll be outside with my lil boi dancing in it for sure. ☔🌧
 

Lazuli

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Hi all

I'm currently using this awesome thread to help me set up an indoor enclosure for a juvenile Hermann's tortoise. There are a few things I'm still not sure about, so any answers to the following would be much appreciated!

1. It is stated above that closed chambers are best for babies - but are they also ok for adults so long as they are big enough? I'm in the North East of England, so it will be easier for me to keep temperatures and humidity constant in a closed chamber rather than a table!

2. Does allowing 1 hour of sun exposure per 1" of tortoise translate/apply to time with UVB lighting on? It would probably be too cold to have my tortoise outside in the winter here.

3. How much ventilation is needed for enough air without letting the heat and humidity out? I'm looking at building a perspex/glass enclosure (unfinished plan below) with the lights/heaters at the apex 50cm above shell height. The sloping roof panels will open and can be propped open up to about 45 degrees. But I'm hoping to keep those closed unless it gets too hot.
a. Would a louvre vent like the one pictured be enough?
b. If so, would it be better to mount them high or low on the solid back wall?

4. Are ramps always bad? I have a wooden castle similar to the one pictured, but with an enclosed top. If I made the ramp into a tunnel would it be ok to use while the tortoise is small so long as the bottom of the ramp isn't under the heat sources?

Thank you for any help and sorry if these questions are stupid!
Lazulienclosure.pngVivVent.pngCastle.png
 

Tom

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Hi all

I'm currently using this awesome thread to help me set up an indoor enclosure for a juvenile Hermann's tortoise. There are a few things I'm still not sure about, so any answers to the following would be much appreciated!

1. It is stated above that closed chambers are best for babies - but are they also ok for adults so long as they are big enough? I'm in the North East of England, so it will be easier for me to keep temperatures and humidity constant in a closed chamber rather than a table!

2. Does allowing 1 hour of sun exposure per 1" of tortoise translate/apply to time with UVB lighting on? It would probably be too cold to have my tortoise outside in the winter here.

3. How much ventilation is needed for enough air without letting the heat and humidity out? I'm looking at building a perspex/glass enclosure (unfinished plan below) with the lights/heaters at the apex 50cm above shell height. The sloping roof panels will open and can be propped open up to about 45 degrees. But I'm hoping to keep those closed unless it gets too hot.
a. Would a louvre vent like the one pictured be enough?
b. If so, would it be better to mount them high or low on the solid back wall?

4. Are ramps always bad? I have a wooden castle similar to the one pictured, but with an enclosed top. If I made the ramp into a tunnel would it be ok to use while the tortoise is small so long as the bottom of the ramp isn't under the heat sources?

Thank you for any help and sorry if these questions are stupid!
LazuliView attachment 350588View attachment 350589View attachment 350590
These are great questions!
1. Closed chambers are great for any species and any age, and make it very easy and efficient to maintain the correct environmental parameters instead of fighting physics.
2. No. Its not one hour of exposure to sun. Its one hour of outside time with access to sunshine per inch of tortoise. This is because too much outside time isn't good for babies. It has little to do with UV or sun exposure. Indoors, with a good HO type UV tube (I prefer Arcadia 12% HO tubes) they only need a few hours mid day, and this simulates the mod day UV spike that happens outside too.
3. Not much, but this varies by enclosure and with several variables. Only your hygrometer can answer this question. Best to have adjustable vents, and then you can open or close them as needed to get the humidity and heat levels you desire.
3a. See above.
3b. On either side would be good for cross ventilation. On the back works too. You can put vent in both places, and close them if its too much.
4. No. Ramps are not always bad.
 

Lazuli

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Thank you so much Tom! I've already bought the 12% bulb based on this sheet, and have tracked down some incandescent bulbs, although they are becoming very hard to get in the UK as they are outlawed for home use. I know you say not to use reptile specialist bulbs for basking - but I may have to in the future, and these look very much like ordinary bulbs to me...if a bit more expensive. They do all say that they emit UVA light though - is that bad? https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/swell-basking-heat-lamps-screw-fitting

Is there anything else that I should be aware of with ramps, other than not having them under basking lights or near water?

Thank you again for your help!
 

Tom

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Thank you so much Tom! I've already bought the 12% bulb based on this sheet, and have tracked down some incandescent bulbs, although they are becoming very hard to get in the UK as they are outlawed for home use. I know you say not to use reptile specialist bulbs for basking - but I may have to in the future, and these look very much like ordinary bulbs to me...if a bit more expensive. They do all say that they emit UVA light though - is that bad? https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/swell-basking-heat-lamps-screw-fitting

Is there anything else that I should be aware of with ramps, other than not having them under basking lights or near water?

Thank you again for your help!
That bulbs looks fine. Arcadia makes them now too.

I'm no ramp expert. Make sure the sides are tall enough...
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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Thank you so much Tom! I've already bought the 12% bulb based on this sheet, and have tracked down some incandescent bulbs, although they are becoming very hard to get in the UK as they are outlawed for home use. I know you say not to use reptile specialist bulbs for basking - but I may have to in the future, and these look very much like ordinary bulbs to me...if a bit more expensive. They do all say that they emit UVA light though - is that bad? https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/swell-basking-heat-lamps-screw-fitting

Is there anything else that I should be aware of with ramps, other than not having them under basking lights or near water?

Thank you again for your help!
Hello!

I have an 18 year old Russian who lives in a PVC enclosure that my father and husband built for him. It also includes a feeding platform with an attached ramp. The sides of platform and ramp are plexiglass. The most important thing to remember while designing elements with a ramp is the angle of the ramp. The “rule of thumb” is a 1:2 ratio—for every inch in height, you need at least two inches in length. So since my feeding platform is 11 inches high, the ramp measures 22 inches in length. This keeps it from being too steep.

Of course Tom is right about the sides…

Good luck with your build!
 

Lazuli

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Hello!

I have an 18 year old Russian who lives in a PVC enclosure that my father and husband built for him. It also includes a feeding platform with an attached ramp. The sides of platform and ramp are plexiglass. The most important thing to remember while designing elements with a ramp is the angle of the ramp. The “rule of thumb” is a 1:2 ratio—for every inch in height, you need at least two inches in length. So since my feeding platform is 11 inches high, the ramp measures 22 inches in length. This keeps it from being too steep.

Of course Tom is right about the sides…

Good luck with your build!
Thank you so much, that is really, really helpful!
 

AZGirl

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First I have to say that English is not my native tongue, I always do my best, but bare with me?

I think this a good informative piece! I don't agree with everything completely, but the majority of it I do. I tried to read this as if I knew nothing about tortoises or tortoise husbandry.

There is one thing that I feel is very important. I've noticed that on this forum there's a lot of emphasis on pyramiding and preventing it, which is good. You should try to prevent it, growing up too dry can other problems like kidney problems, urate issues etc.

But technically, the pyramiding itself is not harmfull. A pyramided tortoise can live a normal life. It's not as esthetically pleasing, but it can live a normal life.
Feeding your tortoise way too much protein, wrong foods, no calcium, no uvb, tortoises full of parasites, worms etc etc is seriously harmful and can cause your tortoise to be seriously disfigured, ill and die.

I live in the Netherlands and a friend of mine is a reptile vet in Germany, specialized in tortoises and turtles. The things he sees as a vet are horrible and the majority has to do with wrong foods, lack of uvb, calcium and way too much protein. Sometimes he sends me pics of dead tortoises he's done autopsies on to show me the impact these things have. And these are the tortoises he sees, the majority of them die miserable at home without ever visiting a vet. The majority he sees has pyramiding but there are enough that look pretty smooth, they still end up being severely ill or have to be put down.

A few weeks ago he showed me a video of two squeaky tortoises. His colleage had put them down 10 minutes earlier. I was stunned! These toirtoises felt like rubber duckies, you could squeeze them in completely and they would bounce back like a toy. It made a squeaky noise. These tortoises where in tremendous pain. He said 'the owners said they had done nothing wrong', which was a lie ofcourse. Lack of calcium, bad foods, no uvb for years had caused this.

Sometimes he showes me pictures of tortoises, dead, full of worms and being eaten alive. There's nothing you can do at a certain point.
Or severely deformed tortoises who were fed way too much protein or without uvb for years. They look horrible and it's amazing they are still alive.

I have rescue tort, Timmie. He's 5 years old. He was captive bred in 2015 and sold at a reptile show in 2016. The people who bought him kept him in a 12 by 12 inch box, no water, no uvb, a lamp that was scorching hot and all he ate was Romain. He lived like this for 4 years. He has shell deformations, but he looks decent now. He walked weird in the beginning, belly sliding and not able to lift himself up. He's doing really well, he can climb now and lift himself up. Getting him to eat a more variety of foods is still a struggle, but we're getting there. I have no idea what the future holds, have no idea what's going on inside the little dude. But I'll do what I can for him.

So the conclusion is, in my opinion, that pyramiding is a thing to be mentioned, definitely! But pyramiding is the least of your concern when you actually see the results of very poor care on different levels.
It's the least of your concern when you see what ignorant people do and what the results are of that ignorance or lack of interest or whatever it is.

There should be a lot of emphasis on that.
Thank you Tom for taking the time to write this very detailed information. Seems I re-read it each Spring. I inherited a Sonoran DT and he has just come out of his 6th brumation with me. He didn’t get a proper start, so I try to do all the right things. I have some concerns right now, but will post elsewhere. Just wanted you to know how much your knowledge is appreciated. 🙏 in Mile-High AZ, the border of DT land.
 

Tracey merritt

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Thanks lots of helpful info. Can you point me in the right direction to get into on what is best thing to do for my two Hermann who have a large heated enclosure that are from the same breeder from the same batch that I have owned for ten years but have now started to follow one another around and mounting each other. I'm very attached to both of them and they have lovely characters so getting rid of one isn't an option.
 

SinLA

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Thanks lots of helpful info. Can you point me in the right direction to get into on what is best thing to do for my two Hermann who have a large heated enclosure that are from the same breeder from the same batch that I have owned for ten years but have now started to follow one another around and mounting each other. I'm very attached to both of them and they have lovely characters so getting rid of one isn't an option.

You need to separate them. One is bullying the other. If you search this forum on "bullying" you will see lots of stories like this. You don't have to get rid of one, but you do need to give them separate enclosures
 

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