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Getting Set Up For New Tortoise


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#1 BeckyB

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 11:08 PM

Hi I've just made a tortoise table and am setting it up before I get my tortoise at the weekend. I'm hoping to get a UV/heat combo bulb to use, what wattage should I get? Also can I use soil from my garden mixed with playsand as a substrate? Would I need to sterilise the soil? Does it have to be playsand or would other sand be ok?
How often should you replace the substrate? The tortoise I'm getting is a Hermanns about 6 months old. 😃

#2 mildredsmam

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 04:22 AM

Hi Becky

Welcome to the forum. :)

I've just been talking to someone my self about the wattage of these bulbs as he's done some research on them, i got told the higher the wattage the better the uv output, so the 160w are the better bulb, you would have to make sure the basking spot temperature is right and not too high or low. :)

I wouldn't use any form of sand in the table as it serves no purpose it just makes the substrate too dry and can cause your tort to have eye problems, soil from the garden is fine as long as its had nothing used on it like a weed killer etc, or you can buy topsoil from garden centres to use

We look forward to hearing more about your new tort when he/she arrives. :)



#3 BeckyB

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 12:26 PM

Hi Mildredsmam
Thanks for your reply.
The breeder said to me a 100w should be ok. Does the bulb need to be a certain distance from the tortoise in order for it to get the optimum UV from it? I have a metal heat lamp that I used for brooding my chicks, it has a ceramic holder and so would use that. I can adjust it up and down to get the right temperature I hope! 😄

#4 JerryMaffz

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 01:18 PM

Hi Becky and welcome.

 

You will get a bigger spread of UV on a 160w bulb because it would have to be higher up to get the same temps at substrate level.

In my opinion 100w is ample on a table though.

Topsoil is available in most garden centres, as is play sand. I do use playsand and my mix is probably 70/30 topsoil/sand. The only reason being that most of the

pictures I've seen of Med. tortoises in the wild have been on sandy soil and I like to be as close to natural as possible.

I guess that the only advantage of sterilised Topsoil might be that it is parasite free (ie worms etc.) whereas garden soil wouldn't be.

My perception may be wrong on this though, as there is the theory that some torts need a certain amount of internal bacteria/ parasites to

aid digestion.

I change my substrate every month, though in reality I could leave it longer.



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Posted 26 January 2015 - 02:51 PM

Hi Becky and welcome.
 
You will get a bigger spread of UV on a 160w bulb because it would have to be higher up to get the same temps at substrate level.
In my opinion 100w is ample on a table though.
Topsoil is available in most garden centres, as is play sand. I do use playsand and my mix is probably 70/30 topsoil/sand. The only reason being that most of the
pictures I've seen of Med. tortoises in the wild have been on sandy soil and I like to be as close to natural as possible.
I guess that the only advantage of sterilised Topsoil might be that it is parasite free (ie worms etc.) whereas garden soil wouldn't be.
My perception may be wrong on this though, as there is the theory that some torts need a certain amount of internal bacteria/ parasites to
aid digestion.
I change my substrate every month, though in reality I could leave it longer.



If you look at torts in the wild, the sandy substrate is nothing like the sand available in
UK and compacts nicely so they can dig and burrow. If we add sand to the outdoor areas where torts nest it would not hold together the same as the wild habitat sand and would collapse, making it impossible for them to dig a flask shape. Sand in UK is coarse and can cause nasty eye irritations as has been found by new keepers of my babies, I now recommend just topsoil as it is more 'workable' and I get no comeback from people having changed to a sand mix.

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 03:01 PM


Welcome to the forum

Samantha

#7 JerryMaffz

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 03:23 PM

Interesting stuff Sue..It's  also interesting to note on Wolfgang Wegehautt's site  http://www.testudo-f...n_the_wild.html that the tortoises seem to enjoy a course sandy substrate for generally strolling around and basking. However, I do note that the pictures of the nests seem to have a darker topsoil colour to them.. Surely, if one doesn't intend to breed then a more sandy substrate would seem a more natural option...As said, I do use a 70/30 mix and so far have had no problems, though your comments and experience regarding eye irritation are noted.



#8 BeckyB

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 05:04 PM

Thank you for all the info.
I bought some willow edging from a garden shop and wondered if this would be ok to make a tunnel/ hide out of for my tortoise? As far as I can tell it's just willow and hasn't been treated. How deep should the water be when I bath my tortoise please? I've bought some plant pot trays but I'm wondering if they're deep enough. 😄

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 05:42 PM

Interesting stuff Sue..It's  also interesting to note on Wolfgang Wegehautt's site  http://www.testudo-f...n_the_wild.html that the tortoises seem to enjoy a course sandy substrate for generally strolling around and basking. However, I do note that the pictures of the nests seem to have a darker topsoil colour to them.. Surely, if one doesn't intent to breed then a more sandy substrate would seem a more natural option...As said, I do use a 70/30 mix and so far have had no problems, though your comments and experience regarding eye irritation are noted.


I suppose it would seem so, but to be honest none of mine use a sandy area in the garden, even for basking. One reason might be that darker soils are warmer, so given that UK is naturally cooler than the Med, they might make this adjustment naturally. One thing I did observe one cool summer was a couple of females attempting to nest in a slate area outdoors and only agreed to move when an outdoor lamp was positioned above their normal nesting area. Also, whether younintend to breed or not, you must always have a good nesting area area if you have females as one of the killers of adult females is folicular statis, so always best to have a male around to prevent this happening. Love Wolganfgs book, not sure what the German grade sand is though, might email him ;)

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 05:47 PM

Thank you for all the info.
I bought some willow edging from a garden shop and wondered if this would be ok to make a tunnel/ hide out of for my tortoise? As far as I can tell it's just willow and hasn't been treated. How deep should the water be when I bath my tortoise please? I've bought some plant pot trays but I'm wondering if they're deep enough.

If it's open weave Becky then it might not be humid enough, which is the idea of hides. If the soil is deep enough, he will dig down into that, I don't use hides for this reason. Good idea though and would work well if filled with moss or similar.
The bath needs to be just deep enough to cover the plastron or bottom shell ;) so long as they can get into it and submerge their head completely it's deep enough.

#11 BeckyB

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 06:31 PM

Hi Sue
The willow is just sticks bound together with wire meant for edging flower beds if you know what I mean, Perhaps if not for a tunnel the tortoise may like it for climbing on?
With regard to bathing, do I just allow the tortoise to bath of its own accord or do I need to actually place it in the bath?

#12 JerryMaffz

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 08:05 PM

You will need a seperate container to bathe your tortoise. Get something with relatively high sides so that he/she can't see out and try to get out. The water needs to be lukewarm and as Sue says come up to the top of the plastron(bottom shell). Leave him in for 10 to 15 mins. replacing water if necessary to keep temperature...I bathe my Jerry every morning after he's warmed up a bit..You can see a picture of Jerry having a bath in the thread titled 'Jerry Maffz'..I actually use an anglers bait tub as a bath, he loves it. :)



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Posted 26 January 2015 - 08:07 PM

It sound fine Becky if all bits of wire are cut short as I am sure they will be. Torts love to climb and it strengthens their muscles to help with all the little mishaps they encounter on their way. You can leave a little shallow pool for tort to bathe in or you can give them a supervised soak every few days or both. If you water his substrate to keep it damp below the surface, you will find he will not want to take in so much water as he will stay hydrated like his wild cousins.

#14 sellwin90

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Posted 26 January 2015 - 11:16 PM

I suppose it would seem so, but to be honest none of mine use a sandy area in the garden, even for basking. One reason might be that darker soils are warmer, so given that UK is naturally cooler than the Med, they might make this adjustment naturally. One thing I did observe one cool summer was a couple of females attempting to nest in a slate area outdoors and only agreed to move when an outdoor lamp was positioned above their normal nesting area. Also, whether younintend to breed or not, you must always have a good nesting area area if you have females as one of the killers of adult females is folicular statis, so always best to have a male around to prevent this happening. Love Wolganfgs book, not sure what the German grade sand is though, might email him ;)

 

Sue, can you elaborate more on this please. In my research, I've not come across anything like this and whilst my tort is only 2-3 and obviously not sure of sex yet, I want to be prepared for anything and everything!

If my tort is a she, what would the nesting area consist of? Would I need to purchase a male tort to ensure that she doesn't get folicular statis? What age is this usually from?

Thanks



#15 BeckyB

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 07:35 AM

Does a tortoise need a minimum night time temperature? Mine will be a 7month old and will be on an indoor table until the summer. I noticed my kitchen was down to 16/17 C last night. However the tortoise will be in my dining room so I will check how low the temp gets at night in there, it should be warmer. If it is a similar temp should I leave a spot light on overnight to keep the temp up or would light 24 hours a day be detrimental? Many thanks🐢

#16 sellwin90

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 08:01 AM

I asked a similar question. Mine tends to fall to 15 C and was told that, that's fine. People I've spoken to have said that theirs fall to 10-12 and that's fine

#17 BeckyB

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 08:15 AM

Oh ok that's reassuring then! Thank you 😄

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 08:41 AM

All lights need to be off from late afternoon ish. My temps are reading 14 as I type and will go back up now the lamps are back on.

#19 sellwin90

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 11:32 AM

Don't know if you missed it sue but are you able to elaborate? (See one of my posts above)

#20 Guest_SueBoyle (was wizzasmum)_*

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 12:03 PM

Sue, can you elaborate more on this please. In my research, I've not come across anything like this and whilst my tort is only 2-3 and obviously not sure of sex yet, I want to be prepared for anything and everything!
If my tort is a she, what would the nesting area consist of? Would I need to purchase a male tort to ensure that she doesn't get folicular statis? What age is this usually from?
Thanks


Did you mean elaborate on the follicular statis thing or the darker coloured nesting areas? Follicular statis is a condition where female torts hang on to unformed eggs due to incorrect conditions. This could be due to not enough depth of soil to nest, follicles forming where there is no male to stimulate this etc etc While there are lots of females around with no males and it's obviously more likely to happen in females that have previously laid, it's not an impossibility and one of the things to look for if a female goes off her food for any length of time. Being a reproductive problem it's only likely to happen to mature torts.




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