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New Hermann tortoise owner


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#1 Guest_jackiedots_*

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 08:02 PM

I have been reading the tortoise forums for a few days now and am so confused because the advice given is so different than that given to me by the pet shop that sold me my two lovely Hermanns. I had a choice of a tortoise table 4' 6" x 2'6" or a Vivarium 4' long x 18" deep, both for sale at the same shop. They recommended the vivarium which I bought but I have since read in several places that vivariums are not at all good for Hermann tortoises. I have a 36" tube light 100 UVB with reflector, hung 8" above the floor and a 60 watt spot lamp suspended about 10" above the floor of the vivarium at one end. They have a house at the other end to the heat lamp ( an upside down shoe box at the moment until the log house arrives early this week).

My two tortoises weigh 124 grams and 150 grams respectively and were hatched in 2006. I have certificates for them. I feel I have been wrongly advised re their housing and obviously want the best for them. The viv is wooden on 3 sides with a glass front with 2 sliding doors. For the last few days I have kept one of the doors open about 2 inches to keep the temperature down more at one end. I close the door at night when I have turned the lamp and light off. I am trying to think of ways to adapt the viv by perhaps taking the doors out altogether and putting a six inch high piece of glass or wood at the front thereby leaving an open gap of about 8" x 4' at the front for better air flow. Does anyone think this is enough or should I be looking at buying a table and giving up on the viv. Obviously it was very expensive so if I could adapt it and make a better environment for them I would but as I have said I want the best for my two little ones. If someone could advise me I would be very grateful. Thanks


#2 Guest_brucefairweather_*

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 08:42 PM

hi when i started first.i also got told by the pet shop i neeged a viv!!!!as you say they cost quite a bit so i took the glass out and turned it on its back but saying that you can make a table for as little as 20.i got the wood from home base and an hour later i had a tort table its really easy.you could try and take it back to the shop or sell it on e bay

#3 Guest_jackiedots_*

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 09:38 PM

QUOTE (brucefairweather @ Jan 2 2010, 08:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
hi when i started first.i also got told by the pet shop i neeged a viv!!!!as you say they cost quite a bit so i took the glass out and turned it on its back but saying that you can make a table for as little as 20.i got the wood from home base and an hour later i had a tort table its really easy.you could try and take it back to the shop or sell it on e bay


Thanks for your reply Bruce. I wish I had got the table in the beginning. I shall have to brush up on my carpentry skills now. Off to the drawing board it is then !!

#4 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 09:40 PM

Hi Jacki and big welcome to the forum. smile.gif I do hope you'll hang about here from time to time, its a friendly place. You have gone down a road that will be very familiar to many of us here. You are right in that most of us don't really think that vivs are right for Hermanns, but there is no need to panic because for a short time your tortoises will almost certainly be fine in there.

The problem for shops is that they sell loads of different animals and the people working have no real hope of understanding the needs of all the different ones. I'm being quite kind to them here because some people would say that they almost have to sell you the vivarium because there is no profit in the actual tortoises. angry.gif

Any adjustments you can make to improve airflow are worth doing until you decide what to do next. Probably the shop would not accept they advised you wrongly and they could find someone with qualifications to say it is suitable. But amongst people who actually keep Hermanns you'll find almost nobody nowadays that thinks this is the right thing. Too much heat concentrated, not enough gradient between hot and cool ends, danger of excess humidity and also tortoises who think they should be able to just walk right through the glass and so they keep trying to do. unsure.gif

Some other folks on here have adpated vivariums but my honest opinion is that you would be better with an open table top. There are lots for sale on e bay and elsewhere and its also, as Bruce says, easy to make something. Or perhaps you know someone who is even just slightly handy and would knock one together?

Heat and light are extremely important and its worth having two thermometers, one for the warmer end and one for the cooler one to keep an eye on this. (Sorry if you know that already).

Some tortoises that come via pet shops have worms because of the conditions they were raised and kept in.

Many congratulations on getting your tortoises!! Ozric (Jonathan)

#5 Guest_jackiedots_*

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 12:00 AM

QUOTE (Ozric @ Jan 2 2010, 09:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi Jacki and big welcome to the forum. smile.gif I do hope you'll hang about here from time to time, its a friendly place. You have gone down a road that will be very familiar to many of us here. You are right in that most of us don't really think that vivs are right for Hermanns, but there is no need to panic because for a short time your tortoises will almost certainly be fine in there.

The problem for shops is that they sell loads of different animals and the people working have no real hope of understanding the needs of all the different ones. I'm being quite kind to them here because some people would say that they almost have to sell you the vivarium because there is no profit in the actual tortoises. angry.gif

Any adjustments you can make to improve airflow are worth doing until you decide what to do next. Probably the shop would not accept they advised you wrongly and they could find someone with qualifications to say it is suitable. But amongst people who actually keep Hermanns you'll find almost nobody nowadays that thinks this is the right thing. Too much heat concentrated, not enough gradient between hot and cool ends, danger of excess humidity and also tortoises who think they should be able to just walk right through the glass and so they keep trying to do. unsure.gif

Some other folks on here have adpated vivariums but my honest opinion is that you would be better with an open table top. There are lots for sale on e bay and elsewhere and its also, as Bruce says, easy to make something. Or perhaps you know someone who is even just slightly handy and would knock one together?

Heat and light are extremely important and its worth having two thermometers, one for the warmer end and one for the cooler one to keep an eye on this. (Sorry if you know that already).

Some tortoises that come via pet shops have worms because of the conditions they were raised and kept in.

Many congratulations on getting your tortoises!! Ozric (Jonathan)


Hi Jonathan, thanks for the welcome. I have read almost all of the posts and replies on the forum ( including some of yours too) and everyone is so friendly and helpful it is very reassuring. I am learning more and more each visit to the forum so it will be a regular haunt of mine from now on. I have an A4 sheet with a list on that I have made tonight and another thermometer is on the list. Please dont apologise for suggesting that, I think I beat you by about 5 minutes !! Lol. I have orchid bark and rabbit hay, both of which I was advised to buy from the shop and I have read tonight that neither of these are a wise choice so I shall be getting topsoil and play sand tomorrow !! ( also on my list)
I have decided that a table is the way forward although that may take a few weeks to organise because it will be in my lounge and I would like it made to blend in somewhat with the rest of the furniture, as the vivarium did. So it looks like it's "Ebay here I come - one very good condition viv for sale " but I will not be advertising it as a good home for tortoises !!
Thanks again and kind regards
Jackie

#6 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 11:11 AM

Hi Jackie,

Welcome to the forum from me & mine, happy new year and all that!!!! wub.gif

If you PM Paula (hettie) I'm sure she will email you pics of her setup, she too had a viv (like most of us did!) but she has adapted hers and added a table to it and it looks fantastic! I know she has put photos on here of it but Im not sure where though! Worth thinking about seeing as the viv's cost so much!

Other alternitive, like you say is to sell viv and use money from that to make/buy a table. Look on the indoor enc section for some ideas! You can also use indoor rabbit/guinea pig tables if you have cats/dogs/kids that may be a threat to a tort on an open table.

#7 Guest_markf_*

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 03:10 PM

i, like you jacki bought a wooden viv set up from a pet shop, and all ive done, like you said is to take the glass out so its completely open front. I put a strip of ply in to stop them escaping!!

It works fine and the temps are fine. The pet shop also sold me a heat mat which is a no no. But in this cold weather i have taped it to the ceiling and it takes the edge of the cold at night for them. (i use a heat lamp and uv during the day of course).

I love your suggestion dawn that paula has done! Im thinking a table out the front of the viv would be absoulutely ideal!! The viv would be just for a hideaway with the heatlamp!!

Also Jacki many of us are hoping to house our torts outside from spring to autumn, and certainly yours are a nice size for some space.

#8 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 05:18 PM

Welcome Jacki to the world of tortoise owning - never again will your first thoughts be how is the other half - but are the torts okay! rolleyes.gif

I was lucky really that I found this site before I bought my babies which were born in July 2009. Without much DIY skill and like you needing to blend the table in with my home furnishings, I bought a bookshelf from Ikea and mounted it on a piece of ply from the builders merchants all ontop of a printer table from Argos (with handy wheels). I have put garden centre gravel boards in the bottom with soil sand on top. (The substrate can then be watered and planted). If I can do it then anyone can! It cost me no more than 70 overall, which left me with enough money for a combined lamp and stand and additional strip light. You will have hours of fun arranging their home and I have spent more time on plannng this than my own garden which I had landscaped last February!

Now planning their outside summer home. Great Fun!

You will get lots of tips on the enclosures section and get ready to have your life taken over!

Enjoy x Pat x



#9 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 06:45 PM


Hi Jackie,

I was also sold the viv set up thing, this is an early picture of how it was adapted, I soon learned that bark was no good either so that was later replaced. rolleyes.gif


My two smaller torts live in an indoor rabbit cage.

Here is a picture of the outdoor enclosure they used this summer. (Much nicer for the little chaps!)



Paula x


#10 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 06:57 PM

Paula's outdoor enclosure looks like a truly excellent habitat! I'm certain there is a little drinking bowl in there somewhere too.

#11 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 07:03 PM

A briilant adaption Paula for the viv, well thought out!!

#12 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 08:25 PM


biggrin.gif There sure is Oz!! A shallow torty size bowl at the bottom end, surrounded by stones... just where we can't see it in the picture!!

The indoor picture still has one of the glass doors in. I leave it slightly open so that air flows, I have used data loggers to confirm that the levels of humidity are no different to that of the room it is stored in. The temperature at the 'cool end' is also identical to that of the rest of the room.
There is also a UV light outside as I was worried she would not get enough light without it, but to be honest she plods out to eat and drink but prefers to spend most of her time nearer the heat lamp inside.

Thanks for the kind comments, It was a case of making the best of things after spending lots of money on a set up that we later found out was not suitable.
In Spring we will be making an outdoor enclosure that the little guys can live in.
All ideas for making this a success very welcome!!

Paula x



#13 Guest_jackiedots_*

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 03:11 AM

Thankyou everyone for your comments and advice. I think I shall keep the viv, remove the doors and add a table to it !! It sounds like a project I can really get my teeth into !! Hettie, your adaptation was really clever and I LOVE your outdoor enclosure. Dawn, thanks for your reply. I have read many of your replies on the forum and am learning more and more, Mark, do you have a picture of your viv. I am pleased it works as I shall definately be removing the doors of my viv now. Pat, the bookshelf may form part of my plans. I need to get to the drawing board now and am so grateful for advice from all of you. Happy New Year and kind regards.

#14 Guest_Ilkeston_*

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 12:46 PM

QUOTE (Dawn @ Jan 3 2010, 11:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi Jackie,

Welcome to the forum from me & mine, happy new year and all that!!!! wub.gif

If you PM Paula (hettie) I'm sure she will email you pics of her setup, she too had a viv (like most of us did!) but she has adapted hers and added a table to it and it looks fantastic! I know she has put photos on here of it but Im not sure where though! Worth thinking about seeing as the viv's cost so much!

Other alternitive, like you say is to sell viv and use money from that to make/buy a table. Look on the indoor enc section for some ideas! You can also use indoor rabbit/guinea pig tables if you have cats/dogs/kids that may be a threat to a tort on an open table.



Hi Dawn,

one question, we have been looking at ways to perhaps adapt the viv or to have a tort table. The only problem we have are my cats. Most of them don't bother them and even run away but we do have one called Stabby who likes to watch them walking and I don't doubt may give them a little encouragement (pawing their bottoms) if we weren't paying attention. I don't think he would claw them at all (he was named Stabby because as an 8wk old kitten he wasn't very good at sheathing his claws and I looked like a self harmer but he is a very gentle soul now and wouldn't hurt them...honest!) but I also don't think the torts wouldn't appreciate a push every time they stopped angry.gif ! The other problem is having an open table with soil and sand which I fear we would have to re-name 'litter'. sad.gif For those of you who may not have cats soil and sand are like Christmas when it comes to pooping! happy.gif They love to go to the toilet in them due to the loosenes(?I think I may have just made up a word there! rolleyes.gif ) of it. So what now. We too went down the traditional petshop/viv route. I saw that you mentioned indoor rabbit/guinea pig tables. (See, I got to the point eventually! biggrin.gif ) I don't recall ever seeing one. Any info on what they are and where we may get them would be great. Hey, don't you think it would be easier if places sold tort tables and called them tortariums so you'd know they were best straight away? blush.gif Good grief I am a walking genius! cool.gif Take care everyone. Happy torting! x

#15 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 09:04 PM


Hi Sharon,

There are lots of different sizes and prices of the indoor hutches. Here is a link to a page that will give you the idea.

http://www.ideas-4-p...-c-159_186.html

Paula x

#16 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 09:22 PM

You can cover open topped enclosures inside, with a mesh lid. This stops anything and anyone getting in. And the tort getting out:0)




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