Trouble getting basking spot hot enough? Please advise re: my setup...

SinLA

Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Apr 19, 2022
Messages
98
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles
So I've had Fezzik about a month now (~4yo, 4.5" male russian), and I inherited various lights and lighting setups that are not good. He had a red floodlight that was 75 watts that he very much likes sitting under, but it only got the spot underneath into the mid 80s. I replaced it with a 100 watt black bulb like below, I have had it up and running (brick is there to help take temperature). I have 3 ways of taking temps: temp on an ambient thermometer/timer, there's a little thermometer on the floor, and I have a heat gun. The brick and floor under the lamp are still only registering mid-80s. You can see he likes it, but I don't think its enough. I can't really bring it closer as the bulb guard gets in the way. I don't know why this 100w bulb is the same heat output as the 75 watt red one. Is the solution simply a matter of getting a 150w bulb and try that? I just want to make sure I'm not missing something.

Please note the "double-wide" below is not his full setup. Its his "inside box" for nights and if I am out of town for a few days, as I'm not yet comfortable leaving him in his "safe" outside section overnight yet (outside is 10' x 12'). He goes from in here to outside for around 4-8 hours per day depending, so he gets lots of natural sun and heat there, but I want to try to get this inside setup ready for when I can't have him outside.

PS: He did eat yesterday, but he really doesn't eat much, I'm trying to figure out if its temperature related. When he goes outside, he largely prefers being in his shady spots, or having only a small bit of himself be in the sun
 

Attachments

  • IMG_5782.jpg
    IMG_5782.jpg
    424.3 KB · Views: 9
  • IMG_5783.jpg
    IMG_5783.jpg
    501.4 KB · Views: 8
  • IMG_5784.jpg
    IMG_5784.jpg
    271.2 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_5773.jpg
    IMG_5773.jpg
    73.9 KB · Views: 8

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
13,971
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Greetings. Your outdoor pen looks great. The problem with your heat issue is that the heat from the CHE is pretty much all going up, and not radiating down. There are differentvways to deal with this, the best is to close that top off. It’s like trying to heat your entire house with no roof, or all the windows open. Increase the height of the enclosure, get the CHE inside the enclosure. Personally although i initially used two or three CHEs in our enclosure, I soon went to a nice radiant heat panel. Much more warming, not HOT heat.

Hope that helps
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,639
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
So I've had Fezzik about a month now (~4yo, 4.5" male russian), and I inherited various lights and lighting setups that are not good. He had a red floodlight that was 75 watts that he very much likes sitting under, but it only got the spot underneath into the mid 80s. I replaced it with a 100 watt black bulb like below, I have had it up and running (brick is there to help take temperature). I have 3 ways of taking temps: temp on an ambient thermometer/timer, there's a little thermometer on the floor, and I have a heat gun. The brick and floor under the lamp are still only registering mid-80s. You can see he likes it, but I don't think its enough. I can't really bring it closer as the bulb guard gets in the way. I don't know why this 100w bulb is the same heat output as the 75 watt red one. Is the solution simply a matter of getting a 150w bulb and try that? I just want to make sure I'm not missing something.

Please note the "double-wide" below is not his full setup. Its his "inside box" for nights and if I am out of town for a few days, as I'm not yet comfortable leaving him in his "safe" outside section overnight yet (outside is 10' ou
Remove the silly bulb guard thingies. You don't need those. Then you can properly lower the bulb to get the correct basking temperature. Looks like you still need some indoor UV, a basking lamp, and ambient light.

The "black light" you've got is not a black light. It is called a ceramic heating element. Those are for ambient temperature maintenance, they need to be run on a thermostat, and you don't really need that for a Russian tortoise in our climate. What you need is an incandescent flood bulb for indoor basking. They made it illegal to sell them here, so we have to get someone from a free state to send them to us here in communist Kalifornia. Have a friend or family member ship them to you, or if you don't have anyone like that, do a post here on the forum and ask for help from someone out of state. There is nothing suitable at a pet shop, and hardware stores simply do not carry them anymore. I stock up every time I drive out of state.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
 

SinLA

Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Apr 19, 2022
Messages
98
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles
Greetings. Your outdoor pen looks great. The problem with your heat issue is that the heat from the CHE is pretty much all going up, and not radiating down. There are differentvways to deal with this, the best is to close that top off. It’s like trying to heat your entire house with no roof, or all the windows open. Increase the height of the enclosure, get the CHE inside the enclosure. Personally although i initially used two or three CHEs in our enclosure, I soon went to a nice radiant heat panel. Much more warming, not HOT heat.

Hope that helps
Remove the silly bulb guard thingies. You don't need those. Then you can properly lower the bulb to get the correct basking temperature. Looks like you still need some indoor UV, a basking lamp, and ambient light.

The "black light" you've got is not a black light. It is called a ceramic heating element. Those are for ambient temperature maintenance, they need to be run on a thermostat, and you don't really need that for a Russian tortoise in our climate. What you need is an incandescent flood bulb for indoor basking. They made it illegal to sell them here, so we have to get someone from a free state to send them to us here in communist Kalifornia. Have a friend or family member ship them to you, or if you don't have anyone like that, do a post here on the forum and ask for help from someone out of state. There is nothing suitable at a pet shop, and hardware stores simply do not carry them anymore. I stock up every time I drive out of state.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. In most cases you'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Ambient light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in LED bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In colder climates, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12% HO bulbs from Arcadia. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html A good UV bulb only needs to run for 2-3 hours mid day. You need the basking bulb and the ambient lighting to be on at least 12 hours a day.
Thanks Tom! The only reason I don’t have those other bulbs is he spends most of his day outside. This is really just for overnight at the moment, and the occasional days I need to be out of town And don’t want to leave him outside Overnight yet (not confident in my outdoor setting yet). That’s why I was focusing on just getting a basking light for him, on a timer, because if I’m out of town for a short trip he still needs that…
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,639
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thanks Tom! The only reason I don’t have those other bulbs is he spends most of his day outside. This is really just for overnight at the moment, and the occasional days I need to be out of town And don’t want to leave him outside Overnight yet (not confident in my outdoor setting yet). That’s why I was focusing on just getting a basking light for him, on a timer, because if I’m out of town for a short trip he still needs that…
I understand. The CHE doesn't fit this role. You need an incandescent flood bulb for basking. The bulb needs to make heat AND light for basking indoors.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,639
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California

SinLA

Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Apr 19, 2022
Messages
98
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles
That can work as a basking lamp if you run it in a ceramic based dome fixture. You will have to raise or lower the bulb to get the correct basking temperature under it.

I don't think you will be able to have those delivered to CA, but I hope I am wrong and your order goes through
 

SinLA

Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Apr 19, 2022
Messages
98
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles
Thanks @Tom I was able to pick them up in New Jersey visiting family this week!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

SinLA

Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Apr 19, 2022
Messages
98
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles
Hey @Tom, follow up question. My game plan was only to use the “double wide“ in case of travel and inclement weather, and until I get things sorted for him to be outdoors the rest of the time. While in the process of getting his outdoor enclosure set up for night use, I’ve honestly just gotten used to bringing him inside at dusk and taking him out again in the morning. He is outside at least 5 to 6 hours a day if not more. Even when he’s outside he doesn’t make use of his large space, tending to hang in the smaller area that is somewhat enclosed, shaded, and, I assume, safe feeling.

I’m now reconsidering trying to set up an outdoor night box for him at all, and just bring him inside each night. So the 2‘ x 6‘ box inside with lighting, would become, in essence, his night box.

Are there any downsides to bringing him in/out each day, rather than him being outside all the time?. I certainly sleep better at night knowing he’s 100% predator and weather proof inside the garage…
 

New Posts

Top