1. Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

Closed "Chambers"

Discussion in 'Debatable Topics' started by Tom, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    38,416
    Likes Received:
    14,578
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    Been meaning to do this one for a while now...

    Over the years I have kept a lot of reptiles in a lot of different ways. I've learned a lot of stuff about a lot of species. Since finding and joining this forum almost two years ago, I've learned a TON more. Now I'm not just stumbling around alone in the dark. Now, with the help of all the fantastic TFO members, I can see and experience everyone else's enclosures and styles too.

    There are a lot of good ways to house a tortoise indoors. Tank, tub, trough, table, and... closed chamber. Different methods work best for the various species and ages. Through all of my "experiments" and sharing the vast experience of others here on the forum, I have reached my current conclusion that "closed chambers", with a basking lamp inside, are the best means of housing the babies of most species. Everyone's situation is different, and we all live in different climates... heck our torts are all from different climates too. Still, overall, I have personally experienced the best results and seen the best results from others, in this style of enclosure. Several people come to mind, but Tyler, Neal, Kristina and KBaker, have especially shown their enclosures and the results. There are lots of others too, but these members have had the biggest influence on me recently.

    Only in a closed chamber can I control the humidity properly. Its very dry where I live, and its a constant battle to maintain any humidity at all in most enclosures. In a closed chamber, its a piece of cake. I've used glass tanks and various styles of tortoise tables for years to house my chelonians, but the open tops let out all that beneficial humidity and heat. By putting my heat lamps and CHEs INSIDE the closed enclosure, they do NOT dry things out AND they use a lot less power to give me the same amount of heat. Plus, once they heat everything up and the thermostat kicks them off, the heat just stays in there. I'm using less electricity on my 4x8' closed chamber than I am on my 40 gallon open topped glass tank! (I have little electric meters called "Kill-A-Watt EZ"). The humidity is lower directly under the heat lamp, but its as high as I want to keep it all around that area and the rest of the enclosure.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In theory this all sounds reasonable, but what happens in the real world? I've gotten the best results I've ever gotten in this type of enclosure. On a lot of my glass tanks I end up covering as much of the top as I can. It seems like the more and better I cover them, the better the results I get. But I still lose all my heat and humidity out of the hole that has to be there for my light fixtures. Like this one:
    [​IMG]

    This leads me to a big problem that has come up recently with several potential new tortoise keepers. Where does one go buy a "closed tortoise chamber" for their new pet? Most conventional enclosures are too shallow to have a closed top and still allow enough room for a hanging fixture with a hot bulb in it. I like the Vision tubs, but they are too short for this purpose. My leopard enclosure is 24" tall and that just barely accommodates things safely. When I build the next one it will be around 30" tall. I have not seen a pre-made enclosure with the right dimensions. Tyler showed me this one that he is using. I can't remember which species he is housing in this.
    [​IMG]

    Remember we are talking about housing babies. Not adults or even juveniles. Discussion is welcome here. I'm always wanting to learn more.
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    69,396
    Likes Received:
    26,087
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Clovis, CA
    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    Oh, Tom...I'm crushed! You neglected to mention my very cheap and easy "closed chamber" idea. I've mentioned it many times here on the forum and it works quite well...but its not very pretty.

    I take two long sheets of aluminum foil (the kind you cook with) and I lay them side-by-side. Then I fold together the long edge of both, making one big sheet. Then I make a cover over the whole habitat including the light fixtures, similar to, but not as pretty, as Tyler's.
  3. JeffG

    JeffG Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    546
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Arizona
    Tom, I'm pretty sure you have said in the past that you don't use UVB lighting for your babies because you get them outside so much. The problem I have is that I can't get mine outside every day, so I feel that it is best to provide them with UVB light. I am currently using a 100 watt Powersun MVB (the smallest wattage it comes in), and it gives off so much heat that if I have it the proper distance from the surface and enclosed my entire table, it would quickly heat the whole thing up to well over 110 degrees.

    Do you Have any suggestions? Would it be better to replace the MVB with a lower wattage heat bulb so that I can enclose the entire table even though I only get my torts outside twice a week right now? Or do you think it is better to continue as I am with as much of my table covered as possible. My little guys do seem to spend lots of time in their humid hide which is generally around 70% humidity.
  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    38,416
    Likes Received:
    14,578
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern California
    So sorry Yvonne. I forgot about your fantastical tinfoil creations, but I give you FULL credit for coming up with the concept. When I said that several people come to mind, you were most definitely one of them. :D
  5. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    69,396
    Likes Received:
    26,087
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Clovis, CA
    Well, ok then. My feathers have gone back smooth.
  6. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2011
    Messages:
    2,513
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    I'm not going to debate what is the right way or wrong way to house hatchling tortoises. Admittedly, I'm just a rookie when it comes to tortoise husbandry. What I will say is that it really shows just how much TFO members LOVE their tortoises, and how passionate they are when it comes to their welfare. This all becomes evident when I see the time, equity, and dedication that owners have put into their enclosures. I do have to ask... Is that enclosure patented, Tom?? ;) I would LOVE to see the blue prints for that palace!
  7. Kristina

    Kristina Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    5,383
    Likes Received:
    77
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Cadillac, Michigan
    I use lower wattage heat lamps, place them right in the glass aquarium, and use a plexiglass cover to seal in the humidity. I have not had any issues with mold, shell rot, or "lack of air-flow."

    My Sulcatas, Redfoot (now yearling,) and Star hatchlings have been kept this way from day one and have grown smooth. I started my Greek (yearling now also) in a a sweater box with a humid hide, and she started to pyramid. It isn't bad, but it makes me feel like a failure.

    Here are some pics of my aquariums.

    As you can see in this one, the heat lamps are right down in the enclosure. The one over the water dish turns it into a little "sauna" and the smaller, darker of the two babies loves to lay in it. She will put her little head on the rim and go to sleep there.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here are the babies. They are bigger now (WAAAAAAYYYY past time to update pictures!)

    [​IMG]

    Here is where I kept my first Star before summer hit. You can see again the heat source is right down in there. In this case it is a 60 watt black light bulb (both this enclosure and the one above have these as a heat source with an additional florescent for light.)

    [​IMG]

    Here is the result...

    [​IMG]

    Next is my little Redfoot. This one started out in an old Metaframe slate bottom aquarium. The hood for the tank has two incandescent sockets, which hold compact florescents, and the other hanging down is a 60 watt black light bulb.

    [​IMG]

    Having that set up made this...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  8. JeffG

    JeffG Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    546
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Arizona
    Thanks for taking the time to post that Kristina. Can I ask what is the size of the glass aquariums in the pictures? I am a bit limited on indoor space temporarily, so I am very interested in knowing what sizes have worked for other people. I have tons of space outside once they are big enough to be out there full time, but while they need to be inside part-time, it is a bit of a challenge.
    Albert vasquez likes this.
  9. Kristina

    Kristina Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    5,383
    Likes Received:
    77
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Cadillac, Michigan
    I use several different sizes. Last winter I used mostly 20 gallons (24" x 12" x 16".) This year, I have two 15 gallon longs (same footprint as the 20s, just not as tall.) One will be for my Greek yearling, the other is for my two little Stars. For my Redfoot (who is around 4") I have a 20 gallon long (30" x 12" x 12".) The "Three Amigos" (Dee, Dusty, and Devon, Sulcata hatchlings produced by Tom) have a 27 gallon long (36" x 12½" x 13") and the two slightly older Sulcatas (Kasey and Kendall, just over 4") share a 55 gallon (48" x 12½" x 21".) For my four yearling Manouria I have a 90 gallon (48" x 24" x 17".)

    Now, please understand, I am well aware of the fact that all of these tortoises are going to at one point outgrow their enclosures. None of these are meant to last longer than a single winter. I have a storage building that is PACKED with tanks. I have tanks from 220 gallons on down. Once these tortoises move past the "baby" stage, they won't be housed in aquariums at all. I utilize very large tables for my adult tortoises.

    I have two racks that hold the tanks. One I purchased from Home Depot, and the other I built myself.
  10. terryo

    terryo Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    8,945
    Likes Received:
    535
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Staten Island, New York
    I've been doing this with my boxie's for thirty years Tom, and with Pio and Solo since they were both hatchlings, with great results. Nothing new here for me..........
    [​IMG]
  11. JeffG

    JeffG Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    546
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Arizona
    Lol! No judging going on here at all. There is a HUGE difference between what is required temporarily for tiny little hatchlings, and full grown torts of any species. I appreciate your input.

    I am in the situation where I have plenty of room for adult tortoises that can thrive outdoors in the Arizona climate, but I have to make the best possible use of my limited indoor space while they are still too fragile to deal with the summer heat and winter cold.

    I wish I could give my four little guys a 10' x 20' indoor enclosure until they can live outside 24/7, but I don't have the space to do that, so I want to make sure I give them the absolute best I can for the time they are inside.

    Sorry to get off topic from Tom's original post, but I know his main concern is to help as many people as possible, and I think this stuff may be useful to people too.
    MelC likes this.
  12. CtTortoiseMom

    CtTortoiseMom New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,515
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    CT
    I love the enclosures that have the plant's growing!! I tried in Chewy's Viv and I did get a tiny bit of grass but as soon as it sprouted it would turn brown and die. I am seriously thinking about taking some sort of gardening class I have the blackest thumb!!

    Tom, having 91% humidity directly under my basking light is just a dream for me in Chewy's enclosure!! The highest the humidity has ever been after a soaking is 80% and that only last's a couple of hours!
    Gennifer11 likes this.
  13. Cloud 9

    Cloud 9 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2011
    Messages:
    194
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    :O, that's a red foot? whoa...
  14. maggie3fan

    maggie3fan Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    Messages:
    10,979
    Likes Received:
    4,203
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I am crushed that you would leave me out when you are naming names. I guess it's my lack of experience...

    [​IMG]

    Or maybe it's my lack of enclosures...

    [​IMG]

    this one has 2 lids on top

    [​IMG]

    you can have one lid open, or 2

    [​IMG]

    I guess it means nothing that hatchlings are my specialty or that I raise them in many different types of enclosures.
  15. ascott

    ascott Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Messages:
    15,291
    Likes Received:
    2,001
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Apple Valley, California
    Maggie, I love your enclosure...seeing these fun enclosures make me think, "wow, if I had to do a set up for a hatchling these are what I would use, fricken awesome" :D
  16. pandacakes

    pandacakes New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2011
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Oregon
    I don't have any ideas, but those are some beautiful babies!
  17. Balboa

    Balboa New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    792
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    PNW
    Hey Tom,
    To beat a dead horse, you know I'm with you on this one. I've said time and again to people, that traditional methods and knowledge on tortoisekeeping defy physics, and you can't just go out and buy a suitable tort enclosure, it must be built.

    1st. From what I've seen, it takes very little opening in an enclosure to create dramatic air flow. Did the "open air" enclosure craze have any genuine experimental impetus, or was it just the latest untried fad? I know I bought into it, because that's what all the "reptile experts" suggested, until I discovered it didn't work.

    2nd. Safely heating the enclosure is a real concern. At this time I'm using a CHE mounted in a old-fashioned porcelain, electrical box mounted fixture mounted to a plywood lid for heating my hatchling leos. It works, but is it really "safe", up to code, etc? Its definately not UL listed so I have a hard time suggesting to folks to do this, though common sense tells me its far safer than trying to "make do" with commonly available pet shop solutions.
    Marinated mamma and agintz like this.
  18. Kristina

    Kristina Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    5,383
    Likes Received:
    77
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Cadillac, Michigan
    Yes, it is ;) That is my little Black Cherry. She was produced by Redfoot NERD (Terry Kilgore, www.turtletary.com ) I had to have her the moment I saw her because she is just so unusual. Terry has produced a few more of the "black" ones since this one, but she was the first and also the blackest.


    Actually, you don't, lol. It would be a NIGHTMARE to heat something that size and keep it humid, lol.

    My opinion is that the young babies hide so much anyway, that they don't need as large of an enclosure as a juvenile. Until they reach the size where they feel more "predator proof" it is okay to use a smaller enclosure. For many however, it is just cheaper and easier to start out with the size that you are eventually going to need, rather than doing upgrades and having to keep buying new equipment. I already have all this crap so it is a lot easier for me, lol.

    As far as keeping them outside... You could do something like this...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It has a lid, too. The lid is hinged, just a wooden frame with more of the wire in it. That is where the "Three Amigos" have stayed since they came to live with me ;)
  19. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    69,396
    Likes Received:
    26,087
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Clovis, CA
    My, my, my...so easy to get our feathers ruffled, huh Maggie? :p In Tom's defense, this is a thread about closed chambers, and I really don't think you've ever posted pictures of THAT tort table before. I like that one.
    Marinated mamma and ElfDa like this.
  20. kbaker

    kbaker Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    Messages:
    445
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Michigan
    Blah, Blah , Blah:rolleyes: J.K.

    I do like your enclosures a lot. They have great lids. Easy access and the lights are secure. Sometimes people sacrifice function and what is good for a tortoise for a more finished look. It's nice to have both, but the tortoise comes first.

    Great job, maggie3fan!
    Marinated mamma likes this.
Similar Threads: Closed Chambers
Forum Title Date
Debatable Topics Too bad this was closed (the evolution debate) Dec 12, 2013
Debatable Topics Open or closed enclosure. Jul 23, 2012

Share This Page