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#1 MustangClaire

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Posted 26 July 2016 - 06:52 AM

Hi everyone.  I stumbled across this forum while looking for advice.

 

We've inherited a Hermann from a friend who moved and didn't have the room.  He's got a Cert. from the EU showing he's been microchipped etc.  We got him last October.  But I'm panicking!

 

He's growing (obviously), not sure how old he is, but he's no more than about 2 and a half.  When we got him he was in a vivarium, with a heat mat, uv bulb and heat lamp.  My friend said the shop advised he wasn't allowed outside until he was 5..!!  So we've kept him in, and let him out in the living room etc.  However I'M TERRIFIED now about the vivarium thing.  Hence coming on here whilst reading they are the worst habitat for them.  So I've ordered a wooden 1.5 mtr width hexanganol sand pit which I am going to cut the base out of.  We have an old delapidated green house in the garden (with more panes missing than present), am thinking of lifting the slabs (underneath is firm dry compacted earth. Then putting the sandpit structure in there, then putting some rocks in the structure, planting some vegetation for him and bits for him to snaffle around and under.  Our garden is mostly lawn and it gets very damp underfoot first thing and last thing.

 

I'm sorry if I sound so ignorant and I'm betting you regulars are wincing at the "V" word but we really didn't know any better.  Does what I'm going to do sound ok?  If I also put some top soil and play sand in there too?  But I have a problem with electricity, I gather he will STILL need a heat bulb?  I am really REALLY going to struggle to get electricity there.  I would like to think we will be making a more "permanent" structure alongside a fence eventually, in the garden but I'm so worried about him being in that vivarium now, I need to get something sorted asap and then have a good think.  Just want to do the right thing by Carlos (his name(....

 

Any advice gratefully received and sorry for rambling!!  



#2 gizmosmum

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Posted 26 July 2016 - 07:10 AM

Someone will be on soon with lots of info but for a start.... Just soil base will be better than sand. Green house sounds great. Put something in for shade/ shelter, plant pots?? Look at tortoisetable site for food guide.

#3 MustangClaire

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Posted 26 July 2016 - 08:44 AM

Thank you very much...  I have just had notification the sand pit is being delivered today.  I can't WAIT to get him out of the vivarium and am so sorry I didn't know any better....  It was all a bit last minute to be honest, but at least I'm going to make a difference now.  Do you think he will still need a heat lamp?  I read (on here) some folks take them inside at night, but there also seems to be a faction who advise against this as it is stressful?  I'm thinking ahead to colder nights, if i absolutely can't get electricity to the green house.  



#4 gizmosmum

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Posted 26 July 2016 - 10:38 AM

I think it'll get too cold outside at night later in the year, also he won't get uv just in greenhouse, you'll need outside run attached to green house. I'm an outside 24/7 person I have molly's encosure with a hen coup/ kennel nearer the house with electricity but I do know people have to bring them in and out cos they have no electricity outside. It's not as difficult as you think to lay outside cable to an outdoor socket when you start to look into it further, I thought I couldn't do it but with a bit of advise and help, I managed it. See how it goes. Sue and Karen will be around in a bit togive more advise.

#5 mildredsmam

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Posted 26 July 2016 - 03:29 PM

Hi everyone.  I stumbled across this forum while looking for advice.

 

We've inherited a Hermann from a friend who moved and didn't have the room.  He's got a Cert. from the EU showing he's been microchipped etc.  We got him last October.  But I'm panicking!

 

He's growing (obviously), not sure how old he is, but he's no more than about 2 and a half.  When we got him he was in a vivarium, with a heat mat, uv bulb and heat lamp.  My friend said the shop advised he wasn't allowed outside until he was 5..!!  So we've kept him in, and let him out in the living room etc.  However I'M TERRIFIED now about the vivarium thing.  Hence coming on here whilst reading they are the worst habitat for them.  So I've ordered a wooden 1.5 mtr width hexanganol sand pit which I am going to cut the base out of.  We have an old delapidated green house in the garden (with more panes missing than present), am thinking of lifting the slabs (underneath is firm dry compacted earth. Then putting the sandpit structure in there, then putting some rocks in the structure, planting some vegetation for him and bits for him to snaffle around and under.  Our garden is mostly lawn and it gets very damp underfoot first thing and last thing.

 

I'm sorry if I sound so ignorant and I'm betting you regulars are wincing at the "V" word but we really didn't know any better.  Does what I'm going to do sound ok?  If I also put some top soil and play sand in there too?  But I have a problem with electricity, I gather he will STILL need a heat bulb?  I am really REALLY going to struggle to get electricity there.  I would like to think we will be making a more "permanent" structure alongside a fence eventually, in the garden but I'm so worried about him being in that vivarium now, I need to get something sorted asap and then have a good think.  Just want to do the right thing by Carlos (his name(....

 

Any advice gratefully received and sorry for rambling!!  

Hi, welcome to the forum. :)

Don't worry about the vivarium you didn't know, and now you do your doing your best to change things for him, pet shops give out rubbish information at times which can make it hard for new owners, it's really good to see you doing your research.

The enclosure your talking about wouldn't work with out added heat in this country they must have heat outside for early mornings and cooler days, a greenhouse would work well for when the tortoise is older but would still need a heat lamp added, if the greenhouse idea isn't going to work you could still do the same sort of idea some thing like an open top table ( wooden sandpit ) indoors, which you would need soon any way as the greenhouse wouldn't work through winter, I wouldn't use the heat mat though just a heat and uv bulb.

What is it your feeding him at the moment?.

We do look forward to seeing pictures of him and any questions you have just ask there's always someone around happy to help. :)



#6 MustangClaire

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Posted 26 July 2016 - 04:34 PM

That is so kind of you to welcome me like that, thank you :-)  I'm ashamed to say I took Carlos on (he was teeny) and because he came from a friend who keeps animals as a rule anyway, and figured she knew what she was doing, we looked at his Vivarium and just thought wow, lovely little set up etc, and I didn't start to research until he started getting bigger, hence me being on here!

 

We have been feeding him Lambs Lettuce (I started growing my own this summer, to feed him) and have been picking him dandelion leaves.  I'm now thinking I'm going to have a bed of mixed seeds growing soon, (after reading on here) so he gets a more varied diet.  I'm actually trying to have a think now.  I know everyone has said they thrive much better outdoors.  By our back door we have a patio area.  I'm wondering whether to put the sand pit there, and get hubs to drill a hole through the wall, (out of the utility room) so we can run a plug and use a heater...  Instead of cutting the base out, I'd keep it, and fill the sand pit with soil etc.  My problem with having the sandpit indoors and using it as a "table top" method is I live in a Victorian Cottage, not much space, and not enough to have a 1.5mtr sand pit in it.....And I've become fixated with him getting fresh air.  Blimey, I'm confusing myself now!  



#7 mildredsmam

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 02:43 AM

That is so kind of you to welcome me like that, thank you :-)  I'm ashamed to say I took Carlos on (he was teeny) and because he came from a friend who keeps animals as a rule anyway, and figured she knew what she was doing, we looked at his Vivarium and just thought wow, lovely little set up etc, and I didn't start to research until he started getting bigger, hence me being on here!

 

We have been feeding him Lambs Lettuce (I started growing my own this summer, to feed him) and have been picking him dandelion leaves.  I'm now thinking I'm going to have a bed of mixed seeds growing soon, (after reading on here) so he gets a more varied diet.  I'm actually trying to have a think now.  I know everyone has said they thrive much better outdoors.  By our back door we have a patio area.  I'm wondering whether to put the sand pit there, and get hubs to drill a hole through the wall, (out of the utility room) so we can run a plug and use a heater...  Instead of cutting the base out, I'd keep it, and fill the sand pit with soil etc.  My problem with having the sandpit indoors and using it as a "table top" method is I live in a Victorian Cottage, not much space, and not enough to have a 1.5mtr sand pit in it.....And I've become fixated with him getting fresh air.  Blimey, I'm confusing myself now!  

:lol:  it can get quite confusing at times, that would work for now if you had a shelter with a heat bulb you would also need some form of mesh lid to stop any predators getting to him, and they are better been outdoors the only thing once September time comes and the weather can start to change on wards towards winter and this wouldn't work through winter as it would be too cold for him outside, he would either need to be indoors or hibernated over winter that's how a lot use greenhouses etc there used from spring until hibernation sorry to give you more to think about but it is best to look at every thing. :)



#8 mildredsmam

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 03:02 AM

Just to add with the diet a natural diet of weeds, plants and flowers is best you can order seeds here  http://www.tlady.cla...t/herbiseed.htm and this is a really good book to help see what's good tortoise food and help with id  https://www.facebook...hc_location=ufi  :)



#9 MustangClaire

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 05:33 AM

Ooh fab, thanks Karen.  I've reached out to a friend who has 3 Hermanns, and am bobbing up there after work to see her set up.  Think that will really clear my mind up too.  I can get some chicken wire from work to put across the top.  I was also going to fix some clear material (glass/perspex) over a portion of it, to make one area much warmer too.    :sun:



#10 MustangClaire

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 05:36 AM

P.S I'm thinking we will hibernate him in the winter.  



#11 gizmosmum

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 07:47 AM

This is what I did. Heat lamp and frost heater with thermostat in little hut on patio, I dug up the paving slabs in places and dug up plantain, garlic mustard geranium etc to put in. She's out there till hibernation. Glad you're choosing outdoors. This set up is great for us cis i can sit and watch her from the conservatory. The glass shelter is an old shower screen, I've put an outdoor light on a timer under it and she uses it on cloudy days. I've fenced it with stud timber from wickes, put some pond netting over it all. Just to give you an idea.

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#12 JenB

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 06:23 PM

Hi, I'm a Newby too. Everyone on here has been fantastic.
I took Hank on a few months ago he is 6 years old and was in a vivarium with a head pad too. I bought some wooden drawers off ebay for £15 and put him in there with some soil, rocks and plants. He loves his broken plant pot as a hide (he has never had a hide). The difference in him immediately was amazing, he just seems so much happier.

I've been working on an outdoor area, I'm nearly there. I know how you feel, I've panicked all the way through this adventure but everyone here has helped me. It's not been that difficult getting the electrics sorted outside either.The thought of it all is bigger than it is to put it together. We bought a frost heater off ebay too they are pretty cheap.
Just look around for things, most things you might already have or friends and neighbours might be getting rid of. xxx

#13 mildredsmam

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 04:40 AM

This is what I did. Heat lamp and frost heater with thermostat in little hut on patio, I dug up the paving slabs in places and dug up plantain, garlic mustard geranium etc to put in. She's out there till hibernation. Glad you're choosing outdoors. This set up is great for us cis i can sit and watch her from the conservatory. The glass shelter is an old shower screen, I've put an outdoor light on a timer under it and she uses it on cloudy days. I've fenced it with stud timber from wickes, put some pond netting over it all. Just to give you an idea.

Hi Gizmosmum,

 Your enclosures a good size, is there a reason you've not taken up all the paving slabs in the enclosure area as this would work a lot better for her, with all the paving slabs up you could make it a lot more natural for her. :)



#14 MustangClaire

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 06:33 AM

This is what I did. Heat lamp and frost heater with thermostat in little hut on patio, I dug up the paving slabs in places and dug up plantain, garlic mustard geranium etc to put in. She's out there till hibernation. Glad you're choosing outdoors. This set up is great for us cis i can sit and watch her from the conservatory. The glass shelter is an old shower screen, I've put an outdoor light on a timer under it and she uses it on cloudy days. I've fenced it with stud timber from wickes, put some pond netting over it all. Just to give you an idea.

That's really helpful, thank you!  Thank you everyone!  I had a good look at my friends set up.  Was really happy to see how easy the "table top" method seemed if you wanted to bring them in in the Winter and not hibernate them (they'd happily hibernated theirs for years but lost one last year so are nervous about doing it again).  Thank you everyone, you've made me go from panic mode to "I can do this" mode :thumbup:  



#15 wizzasmum

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 07:57 AM

Remember table tops only really work for little ones Claire. Bringing bigger ones into a small area over winter often upsets them. Hibernation is really safe so long as the wind down is done correctly and good temps maintained during winter. So sad your friend lost one.

#16 wizzasmum

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 04:27 PM

Just to add with the diet a natural diet of weeds, plants and flowers is best you can order seeds here  http://www.tlady.cla...t/herbiseed.htm and this is a really good book to help see what's good tortoise food and help with id  https://www.facebook...hc_location=ufi  :)



Excellent links from Karen there. You really don't need to go blinding yourself with websites of hundreds of none poisonous plants etc. Remember there are thousands of plants that won't kill a tortoise as such, but the majority of them are not particularly good for a general diet either. The book that Lin wrote with illustrations to our more common species of weed/plant is all you need to give a perfect varied diet for your tortoises whole life and was written following extensive research into the dietry requirements of Mediterranean tortoises. Good luck and well done on turning his life around :)

#17 MustangClaire

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 01:38 PM

Thanks everyone.  I've started in earnest on his outdoor enclosure.  We've taken down the raised beds we had, at the end of the garden, where the sunniest spot is.  The 1.5 metre "sand pit" frame is here.  We've leveled some soil (top soil) and put the frame down.  We've got an old wooden box, so have cut a hole in that and married it up with a hole we've cut in the frame of the sand pit and will put some hemp in the box, (ordered today) so Carlos can go in and out so to speak.  I've also ordered a glass cloche (which you can have open one end) that he will be able to go in and out of, to put in the sandpit frame.  I'm planting some lambs lettuce in the frame too, and lookng out for some grasses to plant in there too.  I've got some old roof slates that I've dug into the earth, with the top edge resting against the side, making a "tunnel" type thing for him to go in.  I will look for a larger water dish to dig in as well.  We popped him in for a bit yesterday afternoon and he dug straight down until the top of his shell was showing.

 

I noticed a few ants in there (and woodlice) but after reading on here last night I'm not unduly worried about the ants.    Does this sound ok?? 



#18 mildredsmam

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 03:16 PM

Thanks everyone.  I've started in earnest on his outdoor enclosure.  We've taken down the raised beds we had, at the end of the garden, where the sunniest spot is.  The 1.5 metre "sand pit" frame is here.  We've leveled some soil (top soil) and put the frame down.  We've got an old wooden box, so have cut a hole in that and married it up with a hole we've cut in the frame of the sand pit and will put some hemp in the box, (ordered today) so Carlos can go in and out so to speak.  I've also ordered a glass cloche (which you can have open one end) that he will be able to go in and out of, to put in the sandpit frame.  I'm planting some lambs lettuce in the frame too, and lookng out for some grasses to plant in there too.  I've got some old roof slates that I've dug into the earth, with the top edge resting against the side, making a "tunnel" type thing for him to go in.  I will look for a larger water dish to dig in as well.  We popped him in for a bit yesterday afternoon and he dug straight down until the top of his shell was showing.

 

I noticed a few ants in there (and woodlice) but after reading on here last night I'm not unduly worried about the ants.    Does this sound ok?? 

Hi,

Do you have a picture as it's much easier for us to see and help, I would use just soil in the box not hemp. :)



#19 wizzasmum

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 04:30 PM

Hi,
Do you have a picture as it's much easier for us to see and help, I would use just soil in the box not hemp. :)


Agree, hemp can be pretty nasty stuff, especially outdoors, where it will encourage mould. Give him as much room as you possible can, metres if possible ;)

#20 gizmosmum

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 04:41 PM

Hi Gizmosmum,
 Your enclosures a good size, is there a reason you've not taken up all the paving slabs in the enclosure area as this would work a lot better for her, with all the paving slabs up you could make it a lot more natural for her. :)

It's about 50/50, the paving is easier for me to get in and sort her out, but yes I know more soil area would be better. Some of the photos are from last year when she 1st arrived, we've dug more up since then. At one point we were considering moving her somewhere else in the garden so we hung fire abit on lifting more paving but looks like she's staying there now so probably lift some more. She may eventually learn to dig!!! You know what it's like....constantly tweaking stuff to get it right!!




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