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Heating, humidity and shell growth

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#1 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 12:09 AM

Hi folks

Andy Highfield has been doing some reserch into humidity and heat as these apply to wild tortoises. Its interesting reading although I don't understand all of it. unsure.gif I think one of the findings is that more powerful lamps used higher up are maybe better than low down less powerful lamps. He found that around the lamps humidity is very low and in order to get really warm our tortoises may sit under the lamp for extended periods.

Andy also found that it is not true that tortoises go to hides with very high humidity like 90%. But the wild ones do spend more time being inactive than our captive ones.

Here's a link to the article


#2 Guest_lovebug009_*

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 02:59 PM

What is the perfect humidity level for Hermans?

#3 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 16 November 2010 - 11:03 PM

Hi Lovebug

the answer to your question is not simple! And I don't fully understand all apsects of it.


In captivity indoors, a tortoise under a hot UVB+heat lamp might be getting only 15% or less humidity. This is not high enough if it is going on all day, but can be alright for short periods. Hermanns do not hide in places with 90 or 100% humidity but they are often found in nature in places with 60-70%. It can be tricky to create this in captivity.

It is important that our tortoises are not forced to sit right under a hot lamp all day in order to be adequately warm. If possible it is good to provide options. Tortoises in nature do not experience day after day of identical weather so they shouldn't get this indoors in captivity.

I hope this might help a little. We have a lot to learn and the present methods of keeping tortoises warm and lit with UVB do not resemble nature at all despite what manufacturers might say.

#4 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 09:10 AM

I agree with Ozric, I never panic if I have to have the electrics off for a day or a few hours, as in the wild they dont have 32c and above every day, temperatures vary. As do light and UV levels.
We do have a lot to learn, but things are far better with tortoise husbandry than ten, twenty and eve thirty years ago. We should never be complacent about the things we do, and always look for new and better ideas about tortoise husbandry.
I also keep my hatchlings in my untility room where I dry my washing, and wonder how much that contributes to humidity in their enclosures? As I for one never actually spray my tortoises enclosures. I do the boxies as they do need a higher humidity.

#5 Guest_lovebug009_*

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 03:16 PM

just moved to Colorado USA and it is a much drier climate than we are ALL used to. I have Mortimer (Formerly Princess Leia, as he showed me his equipment after being called princess for a few months) I digress.... I have him in a 8 x 2 tank with an open top and I know the concern with vivs and stuff, but the humidity in his tank is almost nothing and I have 3 hydrometers of different brands at each end and the middle. There are two 4foot Reptilights in top and a red light on one end with basking rocks that get up to 32ish a hide under a ceramic bulb that gets to 25ish, a hide where the ambient temp of the house of about 21ish (i am trying to convert from Fahrenheit) He is able to move length- wise through the tank to get from hottest to coolest. He also is on artificial grass in part of his tank, slate and rock over the rest and he has a cat litter box full of dirt that is set up with ramps so he climbs over it several times daily and it has a small hide there too. should I be adding moister to the environment around him? like a humidifier for the room he is in? Can I add moisture to the dirt to up the humidity in just that area? I will post a picture of the set up a little later so it is easier to picture.

Thanks again!

Also we are over wintering this year as he was a little underweight (after his de-worming as I just got him at the end of March) and we just spent the last 2 months moving half way across the country, and he was in a smaller enclosure for a while and all the stress, I hope to get him ready for hibernation next year as he is already bouncing back and eating well and gaining weight. ......Don't you just love run on sentences:)smile.gifsmile.gif

#6 Guest_lovebug009_*

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 07:26 PM

Here is his home warm side is closest in this pic.

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#7 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 08:52 PM

Hi. Yes you can add water to the dirt and this will increase the humidity. But when we add water to the substrate this will gradually evaporate into the air and it is impossible to contain this moisture unless we had a sealed tank which would not be a good thing at all. The enclosure you have there is far larger than most tanks that I've seen and this gives it a big advantage because your tort has quite a lot of space to roam about and you can have warmer and cooler places in there. Most tanks are too small to let that happen. We tend to worry about glass but you have heard that already so I won't bore you with it - if your tort isn't trying to escape through the glass then maybe its not a huge issue in your case.

I'm not familiar with your lights but thats just because you are in the US. Your reptilights must be providing the UV?

As you are measuring the humidity I think it would be safe to try whatever ways you can think of to raise the humidity. Although I'm not doing this right now, in the past I've placed whole turves of grass in an enclosure and watered to keep it alive. That did raise the humidity in a localised area.

Another way to do it is with a humid hide. I have used a washing up bowl upside down with a hole cut in for access. The substrate can then be watered under the bowl and the plastic does quite a good job of containing the moisture so the air in there remains relatively humid. The weird thing is that my tortoises used this when they were in the coldframe outside but when I brought them indoors they ignored it totally.

#8 Guest_lovebug009_*

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 10:00 PM

Thanks, Maybe I can get some grass to grow in the cat litter tray I have dirt in. I put it there for him to dig, but hes has yet to move more than one piece of dirt except for that which sticks to him:}
Yes the Reptolight light is a UV florescent light tube, so the tank has UV the entire length.

I will try a few things and report back.

#9 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 10:05 PM

Cheryl you might find it difficult to get your grass growing in the tank because of the conditions in there. Also the tort may trample any seedlings. If you have any turves to hand it might be worth filling the cat litter tray with one to see if that works

Do let us know how you get on - I'm always looking for ways to offer more humidity when mine are indoors!

#10 Guest_lovebug009_*

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 01:38 AM

QUOTE (Ozric @ Nov 17 2010, 09:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Cheryl you might find it difficult to get your grass growing in the tank because of the conditions in there. Also the tort may trample any seedlings. If you have any turves to hand it might be worth filling the cat litter tray with one to see if that works

Do let us know how you get on - I'm always looking for ways to offer more humidity when mine are indoors!

I was thinking of turves, but I don't think it is in season around here, and I worry about chemicals used. I may get an identical litter pan and start the growing process in that and switch it when the plants are mature. Will let you know

#11 Guest_lovebug009_*

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 09:37 AM

I was not able to find any grass turves this time of year, so I purchased a small humidifier. It has a nozzle like attachment on to so it can be positioned to send its cool mist in any direction. I have been able to raise the humidity 20 -30 % on one end of Mort's tank. One interesting note, when I turn it up to full, there is visible mist that rolls down into the tank, several times when I have turned it up Mort moved away from the mist and went under his hide. If I keep it on medium, he goes about his day as usual. I have concluded that he is not comfortable with it on high. Next year I will play around with more natural means to keep his humidity up.

#12 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 11:35 PM

Hi, I've seen humidifiers offered for sale and did wonder if they would be any use for this. I think in a 'normal' room the humidity would maybe disperse quickly and not help much. But in an enclosure it maybe works better. From what you say this seems to be working quite well for you. Your tortoise has options to move away from the damper area without getting cold which I think would be quite important. Interesting.

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