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Vivariums, hemp, aspen, soil?

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#1 Guest_newtortkeeper_*

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 10:27 AM


Im new to this forum and new to keeping a tortoise so i've been acting like a sponge trying to gain info on my new tortoise. The problem im having is how very different an opinion can be from one person to the next.

My Hermann was a present and the person buying it went with the advice from the seller (had 30 yrs experience all the paperwork included, etc) and added a starter package - A large Viv, aspen bedding, a heat lamp, Uv lamp, supplement, heat mat, thermometer.

We set up the home as described, then we read up on the net for further info and everything went misty!
Most sites (this one included) on the whole were completley opposed to Vivariums- too much humidity and temp difficult to vary. The heat mat was just given a complete thumbs down and the bedding had mixed reviews too.

At this point we were very dispondant and contacted the seller for answers, he unsuprisingly was 100% behind the package he'd sold and gave to be fair good answers, he also pointed out that if you search the net it will always contradict, his overall advice was that the Hermann comes from the Med so recreate the Med and he/she will be perfectly happy.
Most people seemed against Vivs because of the humidity levels they create, a table on the other hand is open at the top therefore good vetilation.

However we have set ours up based on the instructions and advice given - the doors are open/removed at the front, the heat lamp is at one end, the heat mat fixed to a side wall at the same end (though rarely used), the vent running along the top at the back is open. We bought an additional thermometers to double check all temps and the temps read 20/22 at the far end and 32 under the hot spot. We seem to have the temp gradients needed and there is plenty of ventilation.

The bedding, we used the aspen for a few nights and he seemed ok, at 8pm he would bury himself in it and sleep till 7am (it was almost like he had a built in clock!)
Then we read a few horror stories about hemp & aspen and opted to change to soil and play sand, but now he doesnt bury anymore its like he no longer knows when to go sleep sad.gif so now we feel like returning to the Aspen. I've read on here that some people dont like using sand as it causes irritation and just use top soil because it's better for creating humidity which helps the shell to grow normal. So humidity is good now?
We are beginning to think that nobody really knows the answers and all opinion is based on what has worked for them and their tortoise's and its just a case of what works for yours.

If we were to think logically about him, we think that on aspen or hemp he stands out, and at night a sleep he is vulnerable and so buries under it to hide himself, where as on the soil and sand mix once he tucks his arms, legs & head in his shell, his shell blends in with the substrate and he is camouflaged automatically. Maybe thats giving them to much credit but then again they can live for 90+ yrs so they have to be pretty smart!

#2 Guest_cyberangel_*

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 12:36 PM

Well the person who the tortoise was brought from, might well have been keeping tortoises for 30yrs, but they are way out of date in their tortoise husbandry.
Vivs are death traps for most med tortoises, they dont have a heat graedient and the tortoises cant get away from the heat.
And has sold you things you dont need for a hermans tortoise.
Viv is a no no.
Aspen is a no no.
You only need either a UV/heat lamp or a UV tube and a spotlight. You dont need two heat lamps.
And you dont need a heat mat.

Of course the seller is behind what he has sold you, its all profits for him/her.

I sell hatchlings, but would never dream of selling a viv with it, I always recommend open topped enclosures. I have kept tortoises for over 30yrs.

You do have to think how they are kept in the wild, it helps. They dont have the same temperatures all the time, it varies throughout the day. Inside its difficult to vary temps, hence no extra heat at night, our houses drop in temps.
They dont live on aspen or hemp, they live on soil.
They dont have extra heat at nightime either.

Did you get or are you getting your tortoise from a private breeder or from the net?

#3 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 09:26 PM

Hello there and welcome to the forum. :D

I was once given info from a very kind lady that had kept torts for years.... her experience of owning her torts and knowledge she had self taught was amazing, but sooooo out of date. A bit like in the 70's when people said "ooooh I had a tort for about 10 years", well that little guy died in infancy!! And then there was how holes were drilled through the shells to tether them. :(

We can compare it with medical breakthroughs... those people did the best they could at the time, with the knowledge they had available to them then, however today I am sure they would do things differently.

I am not sure that anyone knows the absolute ideal way to keep their torts, we are all learning all of the time. Your're right, forums are full of conflicting information. They are a good place to find different techniques and to share successes and failures in hope that others can learn from them.
But the final decision lies with you the torty owner to try and do the best you can for your little one. :wub:

We all make changes to our enclosures as we learn. I used to use topsoil/playsand mix for substrate but decided to try topsoil on its own to see if there were any differences... there were none... so now I just use topsoil. It can get dry and dusty if left, so now I use a small fine hose watering can to combat this, only once a week (well I do it when I think it needs doing) as it is not good for the little guys to be continually on a damp surface. Although in a viv I wonder if this would cause too much humidity? I have found it has helped prevent gritty urates that my guys used to get sometimes. ( a sign of dehydration) My little guys are bathed almost daily.


Anything you want help on just shout, there is usually someone around to help.

Happy reading. :)

Paula x

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