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Under Substrate Heating

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#1 10martinh


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Posted 19 November 2015 - 06:04 PM

Hi, I have had my hermann tortoise, Mr. Rochester for about two years now. I built him a tortoise table about a year ago. His health and activity have improved immensely since the change (He suffered from chronic nasal irritation and sneezing). While building it, I read that heating beneath the substrate was recommended but now I'm also finding article that say their bellies are too sensitive for it. I built the table to include a heating cord that is covered in a layer of material I bought at a pet store and than a thick layer of coconut coir. The heating cord is only on one side of the enclosure so he can move if he gets too warm and I only have it plugged in at night when the UVA/UVB/heat lamp is turned off. The cord was made for reptiles and doesn't get warm enough to burn even with direct contact.  I'm not overly concerned because Mr. R seems healthy and happy but I wanted to get some experts thoughts on the matter just in case. Do I need to get rid of it? I've read that they are pretty good at regulating their temperature and will move if they are too hot or too cold, so as long as he has the ability to move to a warmer or cooler location in the enclosure he should be fine right? 

#2 wizzasmum


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Posted 19 November 2015 - 10:02 PM

You must never heat a tortoise from beneath, this will cause dehydration and possibly bladder stones. Pet shops rarely give good info on tortoises. Think about the wild, snakes use warm rocks to warm up, tortoises never do. Yes I would get rid of it, you will never find a wild animal basking this way as it can kill. When a tortoise warms from underneath, it is too hot before it realises and plastron damage, poor shell formation, kidney problems etc will follow. Always think of the wild. It's hard to tell from the pic, but your tortoise does already appear to have some pyramiding of the shell. What humidity are you using? Coir must always be soaked and never used dry as it will draw moisture from the shell.

#3 10martinh


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Posted 20 November 2015 - 06:09 PM

Okay, I won't turn it on anymore, As for soaking the coir, I keep it the coir dry but he has a easy access swallow water dish and gets soaks several times a week.... I read on this forum that they "should never be subjected to damp conditions"  I copied and pasted this directly from this forum:



Housing: Hermann’s tortoises are best kept in outdoor enclosures where they can live in semi natural conditions. A well planted outdoor pen situated on well drained soil makes for a great captive environment for these tortoises. Do not construct pens on wet or moist areas and simply using a grassy lawn is not a good idea. Although Hermann’s tortoises prefer a bit more humidity in their environment than most other Testudo, they should never be subjected to damp situations.


I could get a humidifier to improve moisture in the air I suppose. I care very deeply for my tortoise and would do anything to improve his conditions and life. I appreciate your concern but he does not have pyramiding according to several experienced exotic vets ( as I said he was not in the best health when I rescued him from a pet store). And I feed him a variety of weeds and greens that are approved from the the tortoisetable website. He also has access to a cuttlefish bone for calcium supplementation.


Thanks again for the help and concern, I assure you I am doing my absolute best to give him the best life. Learning new things everyday. As you know it's sometimes tough to sift through the wrong information to get the correct information.  

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