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Closed "Chambers"

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

  1. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    IMG_6303.JPG
    Very creative old timer. My kids are 6, 4, and 1. I think they would destroy that lol. I can't believe how much more active and over all healthy the baby torts are in a closed chamber. Shout out to you and Tom, I researched your threads.

    Bonus pic of the kids grazing the Russians IMG_6296.JPG
  2. RIO'S MOM

    RIO'S MOM Member

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    Looks like a very good beginning for your little one. I see you have your light suspended by a rope or chord. Is that right ? Real good idea to have that really secure. I had originally bought that light fixture. I returned it to get two separate lights. I have a Red Foot. They are not really heavy baskers, prefer the shade areas. I also separated my CHE bulb from my UVB because the timer that runs the UVB bulb is separate from the thermostat the runs the CHE. Your tortoise may have different needs than a Red Foot. I'm no expert, pretty much new to tortoises as of last year. I've only been studying up on Red Foots.
    I also see you have room to raise it up as he grows larger to keep the light at a safe distance from him. What is the green light? I'm not familiar with that.
    If I may, I do have one suggestion that worked in my enclosure. I ran electric chords through narrow PVC pipes that are screwed to the wall to keep my Rio from biting or breaking them and getting electric shock. I only needed a piece long enough for his reach from the floor. Then I secured the higher part out of his reach to the wall with duct tape.It's still there 10 months later. Just a thought. Nice job.
  3. RIO'S MOM

    RIO'S MOM Member

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    P.s.you can see the PVC holding the thermostat probs in an image two pages back in one of my posts from last year.
  4. Meganolvt

    Meganolvt Active Member

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    For my baby leopard, I put a tub in a tub. The smaller one is the humid side, and has a heat mat under (so there is a heat mat between tubs). This keeps the ecoearth warm and the box humid (usually about 70- 75% and 87- 90 degrees). He goes out his little door to eat and soak, which is also warm (75- 80 degrees) but not humid. So far he seems to be doing great with this set up.
    The lid lifts off for easy cleaning and adding water. At the moment my uvb is a coil bulb, but I will be switching to a tube once I figure out how to suspend it. He's only 3 inches SCL, so this is a lot of room for him. 20170715_212821.jpg
  5. vmenagerie

    vmenagerie New Member

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    What size tank is that?
  6. kalei01

    kalei01 Member

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    Can someone look at the picture of his shell and let me know if something is wrong please

    Attached Files:

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  7. kalei01

    kalei01 Member

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    He still eats good and is gaining weight
  8. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member TFO Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    That is some sort of other physical damage.
    Do you have a dog or are there any young children around?
  9. kalei01

    kalei01 Member

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    No this happend while I was sick and I just put food in there for him and did not take him out to roam I think it happend when his outer shell flared out a little


  10. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    All great advice, thank you. I'm def going to secure the temp and humidity probes better. The green light is an LCD display for temp and humidity that has been moved outside the enclosure. It's also where I set the temp/humidity. I'm going to add another CHE for night time temp control for winter (San Diego lol). All 4 torts seem to be quite happy! Always learning
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  11. Lindsinic

    Lindsinic New Member

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    So I've been reading through this thread for quite some time. It is a LOT to digest, especially for a first-time hatchling tortoise parent. Rocky is a Golden Greek and he's my 9-yr. old son's. My biggest concern at this point is immediately making our tortoise table the proper conditions for him to be healthy. The minor details can be ironed out later, but Rocky needs to stay alive! We would all be devastated if something happened to him because we failed to take care of him properly.

    The problem that set us down the possibly wrong path was the advice of our very reputable exotic pet vet and a recommended article by Reptile Magazine. I was under the impression that we'd finally gotten some direction and that Rocky would thrive well in a dry environment, since he's a desert species. I had read many experiences with shell rot because of too much moisture...this scared me. Now after reading through this thread I am confused all over again.

    I don't understand why, even a hatchling desert species, would need a tropical rainforest environment when that is nothing like there would ever be in the natural habitat they are born into. This is the biggest thing I'm struggling with. I know quite a few people will say that babies require a different, more moist environment. But they would never have that in the wild. Are captive tortoises trying to be raised to look smoother than they naturally would in the wild?

    And the vet as well as some other articles I've read have stressed the importance of air flow (why tall wall glass tanks are not ideal). I was under the impression that improper air flow can lead to respiratory issues. So these "closed chambers" are perplexing to me because they seems to give zero air flow.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning this approach, Tom, I'm just wanting to get an understanding of why I'm getting such polar opposite advice and why placing a desert species hatchling in a completely unnatural environment/climate is what most of you are recommending.

    I've attached a pic of our 3'x6' tortoise table and Rocky, as well as a couple of other user's pics as inspiration for how we could possibly create a "humid area" at one end.

    Habitat:
    3'x6' Tortoise table lined with reptile carpet
    18"x18" house with substrate for burrowing
    (Removable roof)
    One CHE bulb near house opening
    One 100w T-Rex Basking/UV bulb
    (Tested by vet and told to place 15" above tort)
    Very shallow water dish
    Log Tunnel
    Temp gradient goes from about 80-85 degrees
    (I have an infrared temp gun arriving today)

    I have some other specific questions but will wait to hear some replies to this first. Thanks!!!

    Attached Files:

  12. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I'm sooooooo glad you asked these questions and have given me the chance to explain. You are not alone and the conflicting info from multiple 'experts" can be daunting for someone who just wants to give their tortoise a good life. We've been fighting this old, incorrect, often repeated info for many years, and we'll keeping fighting it for years to come. Tortoise lives hang in the balance.

    First a disclaimer: I don't keep greeks, golden or otherwise, so I'm not keen on giving advice specific to them. I can, however, explain these concepts in terms that apply to Testudo species in general.

    Point 1: I do not recommend that greeks or other temperate species be kept in tropical rainforest conditions. If anyone on this site does recommend such conditions, I will argue against it, and I have done so in the past. For reference, here is my care sheet for russian tortoises: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/ Decidedly NOT tropical or rain forrest conditions.

    Point 2: Your tortoise is NOT NOT NOT a "desert" species. Neither are mine. In fact, the only species I know of that truly inhabits a real desert is the desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii, and the newly crowned Gopherus morafkai. From the Reptiles Magazine article:
    "Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca) Found in North Africa, southwest Asia and southern Europe, the Greek tortoise inhabits a variety of habitats, including some that are particularly arid: rocky hillsides,Mediterranean scrub, forests, fields and meadows are all occupied by the Greek tortoise subspecies."

    Why do I use so much emphasis and make such a big deal about what seems like the semantics of a word? Because for decades the use of this word and the misunderstandings about where our tortoises actually come from has been killing them. Literally. Scrublands, forests, meadows and grasslands all require a substantial amount of annual rainfall and carry some humidity for at least part of the year. Desert conditions kill tortoises. Especially babies.

    Along with this point that they are not desert animals:
    Desert animals don't live above ground in the hot dry air in the middle of the day. Uromastix might be an exception, but most of them hide from the heat and the sun in some way or other. Our local Desert tortoises go deep underground to escape the deadly desiccating conditions of their hostile environment. Guess what happens when someone reads one of these old, incorrect care sheets about how "desert" tortoises need it hot and dry because they come from a "desert". They die. A large percentage of DT hatchlings die every year because they are trapped above ground in extremely dry and desiccating conditions. Now think about your tortoise kept in those same desiccating conditions with your new knowledge that yours isn't even a desert species. Further, what happens in the wild is wonderful and amazing, but we can't duplicate that in out little boxes in our living rooms. Indoor enclosures in most homes are extremely and very un-naturally dry and desiccating. In the wild, a baby greek is not going to sit out in the open cooking in the sun. It is going to dig in to plant tussocks and root balls for cover and shelter. They hide under and in stuff, and in these environments humidity will be higher than the surrounding open areas. Not necessarily 80-90%, but frequently up to 60-70%. THIS is your baby's natural environment. These little protected warm humid micro-climates that exist within the worlds arid regions.

    To recap this point:
    A. Greeks are not desert species, and neither are most other species we all keep, like my sulcatas or leopard tortoises.
    B. What we usually perceive as "desert" conditions is not good for our tortoises. It literally kills them.
    C. Even wild desert tortoises avoid desert conditions by going underground.
    D. Indoor captive environments are typically WAYYYYY too dry due to home heating, air conditioning and our heating and lighting products.
    E. Decades of experience, trial and error have taught me and many others, that even though it might not seem logical or appropriate, baby tortoises thrive in the conditions we are describing. Can they survive harsher conditions in the wild? Sometimes. But sometimes they die. Somewhere between 300-1000 baby tortoise die in the wild for every one that makes it to adulthood.

    Point 3: Glass tanks and closed chambers. These assertions that glass tanks cause stress, restrict airflow, cause respiratory infections, etc..., is a bunch of hogwash. Totally false. Wrong. Incorrect. Not accurate. How do I know? Because I've been using them to raise all manner of chelonians and other reptiles since 1979, and I've never had any of those problems. Many other experienced keepers share my experience. If any of those assertions were true, wouldn't I have had at least one instance of these reported problems? I've raised literally hundreds of babies in glass tanks, but none of these reported "problems" has ever occurred. This is an often repeated incorrect myth.

    Restricted air flow? If the room air is cold and dry, don't you want to restrict it from flowing into your tortoises enclosure and chilling him/her while dehydrating him/her at the same time? I do. Know why I wear a jacket on cold windy days? Because it restricts air flow. Know why I don't wear a jacket on hot days? Because it restricts air flow. If the room air where your tortoise's enclsoure is located is the correct temperature and humidity for your individual tortoise based on its age, size and species, then air flow is fine. If the air is too cold or too dry, then restricting air flow is exactly the point.

    How about "glass tanks hold in heat"? Right. What is that little bulb over each of our enclosures doing? It is supposed to be heating the environment for our cold blooded animals. Holding in some of that heat sounds like a terrific idea, not a bad one. If we hold in some of our electrically generated heat, we can use lower wattage bulbs to reduce energy use, keep the tortoise warmer, and reduce the desiccating IR-A effects of our incandescent bulbs.

    Closed chambers: The basic concept is to close off some air space and only spend enough electricity to heat and manage that smaller air space, rather than fighting physics with an open top. No one ever said that a closed chamber had to be hot and humid all the time. A closed chamber simply allows to user to easily maintain whatever conditions are desired by giving them a smaller, contained air space to manage.

    Point 4: Your enclosure is a nice size. I would change a few things:
    1. Add about 4" of damp substrate. I like coco coir best for baby Testudo. Hand pack it to reduce messiness, and buy it in bulk online or at a garden center to save a bunch of money over pet store prices. I prefer fine grade orchid bark for Testudo once they reach about 3-4". You need to soak your baby every day to prevent organ damage in your current dry enclosure. It can happen in one day.
    2. Those ramped water bowls are great for lizards and snakes, but they are literally death traps for tortoises. They are a very real flipping/drowning hazard. You should replace it immediately. Terra cotta plant saucers sunk into the substrate work best.
    3. Its great that your vet tests bulbs for his clients, but you need to test your own bulb in your enclosure. Many factors influence how much UV gets tot he tortoise and the current crop of MVBs appears to be ineffective as a UV source after about 3 months. Only a UV meter under your bulb can verify or deny this. Here is the meter to get: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html


    Keep those questions coming, and lets talk about these things some more.
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  13. Lindsinic

    Lindsinic New Member

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    Tom,

    SUCH helpful information. Thank you so much! We will get things fixed up in the tortoise table. Questions:

    1) do you recommend the piled substrate be everywhere or can there be some areas of just reptile carpet and some areas where it ramps up into deeper, moist substrate?

    2) humidity, as is, is reading 52%. Will moist substrate alone help enough that covering the entire top will not be necessary? Having a hard time figuring out how we would safely and effectively cover the table and work around the two bulbs/house roof. What about a couple of "panels" that could cover a majority of the top to keep some heat and moisture in? Definitely wouldn't be a closed chamber, though.

    3) UV meter added to Amazon cart. Wow...pricey! Is it necessary to have one this expensive? Any other recommendations? Do you have some guidance on what UV range I am needing to achieve for a Golden Greek hatchling?

    4) Water bowl removed. Will use terra cotta planter bowls as you suggested. One for feeding, one for water?

    5) Do you know of a tortoise calcium powder supplement that has dosages per weight of tortoise instead of poundage of food? The National Geographic powder we have says 1/2 tsp. per lb. of food. Rocky eats a minuscule fraction of a pound. How can I possibly know how much powder to use?? But if I could portion out based on his weight that would be so much easier and safer. See photo.

    6) do you have to make the coconut coir moist by spraying with water? Is what I already have the same as what you're referring to? See photo.


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  14. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    1) I recommend the substrate be everywhere. How much water to add and how often depends on many factors. You'll have to do it by feel. No need for it to be wet. Just a little damp in the lower levels.
    2) I found it hard to believe that you have 52% humidity in an open table, so I went back and studied the photos. Looks like you are using one of those dial type stick on hygrometers. Those are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable. You can get a decent digital one for about $8 at Lowes or Home Depot. If you read my care sheet, you'll see that I don't think a full closed chamber is necessary for Testudo. I don't have much greek experience, but its not needed for other similar species. With damp substrate and a humid hide, your tortoise should be able to find the moderate humidity and microclimates it needs.
    3) That is the only meter I know of that works for our purposes. We used to use the 6.2, but the 6.5 more accurately addresses the spectrum that we need for our tortoises. Yes it is costly, but its a lot cheaper than treating MBD with your vet, and over time it will save you money since you won't be replacing bulbs unless you actually need to replace them. There is much we don't know about UV and how our reptiles use it. I like is UVI reading around 3-5 and I put my bulbs on timers to come on mid day for 3-4 hours to simulate the mid day UV spike that happens outside. You don't have that option with your MVB, which is one reason I prefer regular flood bulbs and UV tubes.
    4) Yes. Terra cotta saucers work perfectly as food and water bowls.
    5) This is another area of debate with no scientifically studied and defined answer. No one knows how much they need or how often, and it will vary according to many factors including size, growth, sex, season, diet, etc... I like to use a tiny pinch twice a week.
    6) Spraying the surface doesn't do much. You need to dump water into the substrate. As long as there is no poop, I usually dump the water bowl into the drier areas and rinse and refill daily. You might ned to do this every other day, or every day might not be enough, and you;ll need to add even more. It can change seasonally with heat, cold, AC, ambient humidity, etc... The stuff you have there would be good for an adult, but I think it is too coarse for your baby. Coir will be finer. Also, buying that brand froma pet store is prohibitively expensive. You can get it much cheaper in bulk at a garden center or nursery. You are not likely to find it at HD or Lowes.


    Does this mean my above explanation in the previous post made sense? Not advocating all wet and sloppy humid all the time for a Testudo species. Just recommending some moderate humidity and the ability for the tortoise to make its own moist microclimates as they would do in the wild by digging in.
  15. Lindsinic

    Lindsinic New Member

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    I see that the Coconut Coir tends to come compressed in bricks. Any idea how much I might need for my 3'x6' table?

    I'll grab a digital hygrometer tonight at Lowe's.

    How often do you replace all of the substrate to prevent it from smelling?

    When this T-Rex bulb goes bad maybe we'll consider separating the basking and UV bulbs.

    I'll post a pic once we get table fixed up.

    Thank you again...very helpful!

  16. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I would go to a garden center or nursery for your substrate. You'll probably need 20-30 bricks for a table that size and that will cost you a fortune at a per store. You can get the equivalent of those 20-30 bricks in bulk for about $12 at a local nursery. They will know it as coco coir or finely ground coconut husk. It comes in giant blocks and you can rehydrate it in a 5 gallon bucket.

    I never replace the bedding, unless that tortoise moves out and a new one moves in. If you soak regularly, most of the pooping and peeing will happen in the soak water. Then all you have to do is spot clean leftover food and the substrate stays clean.
  17. Lindsinic

    Lindsinic New Member

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    Alright, Tom, here are the changes we've made so far. See pics. Complete layer of rehydrated coconut coir. Deeper in the house. Put a digital thermometer/hygrometer in the house. Used planter saucers for shallow water and food. Put water near CHE area in hopes it would prevent water from getting cold.

    Bought this thing of wheat grass and pet grass at the grocery. Thought about planting it in the corner and seeing what happens. Thoughts?

    Pretty concerned about temps in general. Can't seem to keep environment warm and moist substrate seems cold to the touch.

    Basking region reading: 81 degrees
    CHE region reading: 83 degrees
    Inside house reading: 70 degrees at substrate, 65% humidity
    Outside house away from CHE reading: 65 degrees

    Entire upstairs thermostat is set to 73 degrees.

    I definitely need advice on this please.



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