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What do I need

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#1 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 12:23 PM

Hi. I'm in the middle of getting a Horsfields tortoise at the moment and have been reading up on them trying to figger out exactly what i will need housing wise. I have owned a lizard in the past so i have a rough idea of what is required, but i would really appreciate some help and advise from people who have first hand knowledge. Many people have said that a vivarium or tank is the wrong way to go, is this true? Also, what else do i require e.g. heat lamp, uv lamp, heat mat??
Any help would be very much appreciated.


#2 Guest_pmullen_*

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 08:49 PM

hi sarah you will need a tortoise table about 4ft long, you can make your own, they need an open top enclosure,as vivariums can cause
pneumonia and RNS........

you will also need a basking lamp, plus a uvb lamp,
soil, play sand mix substrate,
you will need an out door enclosure,
for food, they eat dandilion, clover, grasses, panseys etc....never feed fruit!!!!

read up on this for more info



#3 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 10:33 AM

Great, thanks very much for your reply!!:D

I do have another question about the substrate though, does the soil need to be any particular type? As in, does it need to be more wet/moist or is it better to be drier and what sort of ratio of sand to soil is best?
Also, in regards to the bulbs, a lot of people seem to have the combination bulbs with both heat and UVB, are these any good, or would you recommend getting them seperate?
Again thanks for your help!


#4 Guest_pmullen_*

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 11:10 AM

hi sarah, the mix is roughly 50/50 mix.
i used loam soil before, but found it really dusty,
im not sure what soil others use,
but make sure that there is no chemiclals in it.
i threw in some garden soil with the loam soil, this improved the dust,
also dry not to have the substrate too dry,
as dust can cause rns aswell,
horsfields love to dig, and do so to regulate their body tempeture.
personaly i use a basking lamp and a seperate uvb bulb,
but i know alot of people use the combined basking uvb lamp,
its up to you!!

ps. make sure you buy a uk cb, dont buy from a pet shop!!;)
there are loads of horsfiels breeders in the uk

#5 Guest_veebee_*

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 03:35 PM

Hi Sarah, you can get 'top soil' and a bag of play sand from B&Q (about 3.50 each a bag) and mix it 50:50, I usually mist spray the surface in the morning so that its not too dusty, I put half the sand/soil in one half of the enclosure and hemp the other side, with slate, pebbles and branches dividing the two, to give it variety.

You can use separate uv and heating spot lamp, but these can work out more costly in the long run, as the uv strip lights have a very limited life of around 7 months (even tho they still come on and work the uv has diminished). The combined heat/uv lamps last upto 2 years and give far greater amount of uv, but are initially more expensive (lamp costs about 50+ plus you neen ceramic holder).

And as mentioned above dont get tempted by pet shops, there are plenty of uk breeders, whos prices are often less than pet shops and you have peace of mind you are getting a healthy one.

Good luck ..... Vivienne

#6 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 12:05 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 05-12-06 AT 12:22 PM (GMT)]Thanks for all the replies, any help or advice is much appreciated!:D
I think for the light and heater its sounding better to get the combined one. Would you buy that from a normal pet shop or is there somewhere online you know to recommend?

I did wonder if bark was any good though for a substrate, because it says on a lot of websites that Horsfields like to be dry and i wondered if soil may be too moist??

Also, how do tortoises deal with travelling? Basically, I live at my Dads but my Mum lives about 10 minutes drive away. Do they cope quite well in transport, or does it depend on the weather, temperature, etc??

Also, i am a little worried as both of you have advised not to buy from a pet shop, but the tortoise i have seen and also put down a deposit for, is from a pet shop. As yet i have not picked him up he is going to be a gift for me from my partner, so the pet shop agreed to look after him for a few weeks. I have been to see him a few times and he seems very happy and active. I have purchased from them a number of times and most recently i bought a chameleon from them and she was always in good health. What would be your advice??


#7 Guest_milou1_*

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 12:21 PM

Hi Sarah,

I bought a T Rex Active 100watt flood bulb and the cermaic holder for my spur thigh from Surrey Pet Supplies. This was the cheapest online I could find - total was about 75. It arrived within about three days of ordering. You may need a different wattage for a horsefield so maybe someone else on here could help you with that.

Regards travelling. If I have to take mine anywhere (i.e. vets etc) I pop him in a shoebox with some warm sub-strate and shredded paper and belt the box up on the front seat. Don't think he likes it too much but sometimes these things need to be done don't they? I just try to make him as comfortablea s poss. How often will you be moving him?

#8 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 12:27 PM

Hi Milou,

Is it still ok to move them in the cold whether? Does it just mean you have to be more careful about keeping him warm? I would like to take at least a few times to see her, possibly more when the weather becomes nice. But for now maybe once every couple of weeks, but its hard to say really. Is it not really plausible to keep them out overnight? If you can, is it best to take extra things to make them comfortable? Or can yu move the whole enclosure?

Also, what do you think to my other question of buying from pet shops?


#9 Guest_Henry_Flash_*

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 04:10 PM

I wouldn't advise continual movement unless it was neccesary, vets etc, If you do need to move them other than for the vets try and take the whole enclousure to reduce stress, but best to keep them in one place.

Regarding the petshop. He may look healthy enough, but he will most likely have internal parasites which can not be seen from the outside. If possible I would adivse trying to get your deposit back andf finding a good breeder instead.

0.1.3 Hermanns
1.0.0 graeca graeca
1.0.0 Horsfield

#10 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 10:21 AM

I see what your saying but why is the likelihood of having parasites higher from a petshop?

#11 Guest_Henry_Flash_*

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 04:07 PM

[updated:LAST EDITED ON 06-12-06 AT 04:09 PM (GMT)]Because almost all tortoises in shops are imported. The conditions they are imported in are horrific. All stacked up ontop of each other, some crused in the process. Because of this close contact in far from ideal conditions the tortoises are at a high risk of contracting disesases and parasitic infestations.

Another point with these imports is that for everyone that arrives in this country hundreds will have died. We need to prevent this trade and the more torts bought from shops then the more will be imported to replace them. If we stop buying from petshops we can minimize this cruel trade.

Take a look at this link. It shows pictures of the horrific way tortoises are imported. Please be aware it contains images that may upset some people, myself included. http://forums.shelle...opic.php?t=2523


0.1.3 Hermanns
1.0.0 graeca graeca
1.0.0 Horsfield

#12 Guest_milou1_*

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 06:40 PM


Sorry I've not replied sooner, been a bit busy.

Regarding your query about buying from a pet shop, we were given our spur thigh as a gift. Our friends brother imported him from Germany. He has a 'cites' so I am happy that it was all above board but I couldn't say for certain. I am not at all qualified to say whether pet shops should be avoided but I would trust the opinion of the other tort forum members although I can see how difficult it would be for you to not have the one you have put a deposit on as I am sure you have already started bonding with him :-(

Sorry I can't be more helpful

#13 Guest_lepinsky_*

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 07:56 PM

Hi Sarah,

You've been given some good sites, but some others you might look at are
This is an excellent downloadable guide and has a great list of edible plants; and
This is a great site of all aspects of horsfield care.
Well done for doing your research before you get your tortoise - I'm sure you'll provide it with a very good home.


#14 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 02:30 PM

Thanks for the website addresses Nina, they're really helpful! I'm pretty clued up on the basics now, but i have to say, there is more to looking after torts than i thought, just hope i get it right!!

I know what you mean Milou, i guess its one of those things when i'm going to have to trust my instincts. I don't in any way condone the ways in which some torts are imported, it's just dreadful and the pictures Henry Flash sent are so sad. If it is the case that the tort i'm getting was imported in such a way, I'll try and give him the best possible life i can. Thanks for your input all the same!!:-)

Thanks again for your help, but I do have another question though, I was wondering do you have to bath tortoises or do you just let them bathe in a bowl of water themselves??

#15 Guest_lepinsky_*

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 07:18 PM

Some torts will wander into their own water bowl and sit in it, but many
will not (my little ibera used to love to walk through his water bowl twenty times a day, but my horsfield has never walked into his - but for some reason he sits for hours outside it with just one leg dipped into the bowl). I think bathing is important even if they do go into their water bowl, as the lights in an indoor enclosure are very drying and they can get dehydrated more easily. Also, since they almost always poo or wee in the bath, if you have a separate container for this (a washing up bowl is good), you can dispose of the contents easier and his drinking water in the enclosure isn't contaminated. Also, the water in the bath should be nice and warm, whereas the water in the drinking bowl will probably be cool or room temperature.


#16 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 04:15 PM

Great, thanks!!

Also, what sort of bulb is it best to have for a Horsfield?? Would a 100 watt bulb be suitable?

Cheers, Sarah :D

#17 Guest_lepinsky_*

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 05:47 PM

An ordinary 100W household spotlight is fine (that's what I use), and if your house is warm then a 60W bulb will do - you just raise or lower the bulb to get a temperature of about 90F directly under the bulb (and you want about 70F at the cool end of the enclosure, and no light or heat at night indoors). But you also need a source of UVB light, and these are in the form of fluorescent tubes (get one that is at least 5.0 and preferably 7.0 or 10.0). Many people use the combined heat and UVB mercury vapour bulbs (heat and light in one), as these give off more UVB and also last up to two years (whereas the fluorescent bulbs are only good for six months). I use the fluorescent tubes plus a spot bulb, but I know others on here use the combined and they could tell you more about them.


#18 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 12:00 PM

I know, from what people have said the combination bulb does sound like a good option, probably the one i'll go for as it sounds like they last for a long time.
Thanks again for all your help. Only another week now and then I can pick him up!! Can't wait!:D

#19 Guest_sarahlee110_*

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 12:19 PM


I have another question which i'm hoping someome can help me with. Yesterday i went to buy everything for my tortoise setup. I was wondering is it a good idea to have an extra form of heat, such as a heat mat as an alternative source of heat to put on at night for in case it gets cold? They say its not good to put them under the substrate but is it ok to stand up at the back of the emclosure instead??


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