Building first table

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Jimmy Dean

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I do not have any tortoises yet, and have no reptile experience. I have however been doing a lot of reading, and I stayed at a H o l iday Inn last night.
I am looking at getting 3 Sulcatas eventually. I would prefer as young as possible, days, or even less…I have not looked into what it would take to hatch viable eggs as of yet, but that would be an option as well as far as I am concerned.
For the long run, if you are concerned, I own 3 acres right now, and that will only ever go up, never down, as I would only move for more land.
I have started to build my tortoise table, frame is complete, size is 8’x4’x16”(or so) (figured building it around a sheet of plywood would be easiest), and this thing is both heavy and sturdy, with a complete 2x4 frame. The corner posts are 2x2 red oak uprights, with 1x4 red oak connecting the bottom posts along the bottom and 1x3s along the top, providing a full length window on all 4 sides that is about 12” tall. This will be filled with plexi
I am aware that bare wood would rot, so that plan on there is to seal the floor with several coats of polyeurethane or some other sealer. The plexi will be sealed in the corners where it meets, and to the floor, this should create a waterproof tub.
Easy stuff: done
Now for the rest of the design:
I’ve done some reading of Tom’s threads and a few design things he has done over the years. I get, and agree that I should try and maintain high humidity levels to prevent pyramiding. Luckily, I live in Louisiana, and we have a year round high humidity percent (our daily average yearround is never below 45%, average daily high is over 90%, every day of the year.) So this should help in maintaining a humid environment even inside the house, we do not run dehumidifiers inside, so the humidity stays and ambient 75% plus, except when the gas furnace kicks on during the winter, at this point I will need to do something to keep up humidity.
As of right now, I am not planning on a covered table, will be open at the top.
As I have 32 sq ft of floor space, I am thinking of having a decent sized hide, probably front to back (4ft) and about 2ft down the length of the table, so 8 sq ft. roof of hide to be about 8 inches above floor. Planning on a ramp to the roof of the hide, but I need to figure out the correct ramp angle, or rise over run for this. Enterance to the hide I’m thinking will be the 1ft closest to the front, but here is the kicker. Once inside the hide, there will be a wall that goes towards the back, so that the torts would need to go around this wall to get into the hide, this should help to maintain temp, reduce airflow, and maintain very high humidity inside the hide, and reduce light transmission, making it more like their burrows where they have a turn in it to do all these functions.
Thinking substrate should be a mix of the coconut fiber and local topsoil, out of my yard, where I DO NOT use any type of chemicals or fertilizers, probably 2-3 inches deep, and a bit deeper in the hide, possibly have some other form of hay or moss inside the hide to provide an additional burrowing material.
I would be making the hide roof removable, so it may end up being a plain wood surface on top, unless I can figure out a way to have substrate up there as well and not make a mess when I remove it. There will be rails along the ramp and the roof so that no tort can fall off.
I am thinking about getting rather innovative with the water source. I have a lot of fish tanks, and thus a lot of small pumps laying around, I am debating on placing in a shallow water dish, recessed into the table so that it is nearly flush with the level of dirt, and creating flowing water by putting a hose bringing fresh water and a return to a water source under the table, the water dish itself would only have the requisite level of water in it, say ½” or so for a baby tort, and would be able to increase it over time by adjusting the height of the return as they got larger. This should provide cleaner water, and I can keep it warmer this way by having a heater in the sump. Additionally, this could add asthetics in the form of a small waterfall set up, and flowing water would help to add to the local humidity (flowing water contains more energy at same temp than still water, and is thus more readily excited to evaporate in high humidity enviroments)
I would likely attempt to grow a few grasses and such in the table, but the torts may simply eat them faster than they can grow, I will also be growing correct diet outside as much as I can, and supplementing per suggestions.
I am still open to suggestions on other ways of doing things (other than changing the dimensions of the table….except that I can always make it taller by making additional layers so to speak that will rest on the existing frame)
My two problem areas I am having right now are:
Best way to keep the hide warm. My house stays at a chilly 68*F
Best way to set up lighting and heating over such a large area to provide proper gradients while still promoting use of the entire structure.
I will be running this table for a few weeks before I do get any torts so that I can make sure that the temps and humidity stay where I need them to stay. And I will also see if I need to do anything to keep the humidity at the appropriate levels aside from ‘watering’ the table so-to-speak (such as adding in a terrarium fogger or some such)

How do y’all typically keep the hide at 100% or close to that on the humidity? Keeping wet sponges or something in there?

Let me know your ideas, thoughts, etc.

Thank you,
JD
 

Yvonne G

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Hi JD, and welcome to the Forum!!

Whew! That's quite a first post. It sounds like you've really got it all together.

I'm just wondering what the fact that you stayed in a H o l iday Inn had to do with anything. :p
 

Yvonne G

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I hope you realize that I was just kidding. Be as wordy as you like!
 

Jimmy Dean

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So, any thoughts or suggestions? I'm almost wondering now if I should've built a closed chamber...
 

Saleama

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The Hol i day inn is a reference to the old commercials where people do extraordinary things and when asked if they are, for instance, a doctor, they say,"No! But I did stay at a Ho li day Inn last night!" He is making a reference that means he has never built a table but....well, you get it now. LOL...
 

Yvonne G

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WHOOSH!!! That one went right over my head. LOL! Thanks for the explanation, Saleama!

I wasn't sure if it was going to be an embedded key for some future spammers to look for. That's why I put in the spaces.

Very funny, JD.
 

samsmom

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is there any way to hang a CHE on a thermostat inside the hide area? with that size of enclosure you will probably need multiple lights and heating elements set on thermostats! i use about 4-6 inches of coco coir mixed with moss inside my hide and spray it daily to keep it humid in there! good luck and i hope some of this helps!
 

Tom

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You are already realizing the problem.

If ambient conditions in that room are different than what you are trying to achieve for the baby tortoise, an open table simply will not work. Your table will work great for any of the Mediterranean species or a CA desert tortoise, but it simply won't work well for a tropical species that needs warm temps 24/7 and high humidity to simulate the rainy season they are born into. The only way to make it work is to make the whole room the proper temp and humidity that you need in the enclosure.

I know what a pain it is to scrap and rebuild, but believe me, I have tried every way under the sun, and a closed chamber is the only thing that makes sense for some species. In one case I made my entire reptile room a giant closed chamber and then had no problem with the open tops. Because the room stayed no lower than 80 degrees and 80% humidity, I just used little low wattage basking lights on timers over each enclosure. Night temps were maintained by room heaters.

Your enclosure size and all your plans are fantastic, but maintaining 80% humidity and 80 degrees in a 68 degree heated and air conditioned room with an open topped enclosure will be very difficult, if not impossible.

Sorry man.
 

ILoveTortoises2

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It sounds like you know exactly what you want...
I would really think about putting some kind of netting on the top so nothing can get in at all... Don't want them to get hurt at all. Want them as safe & sound as can be. :)
Would LOVE to see the BEFORE & AFTER photos... OR where your starting from now :)
 

Jimmy Dean

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Ok, so it sounds like I need to revisit my table a bit to find the best way to make it a closed chamber.

I may just put a 1-2 foot to on it, a seperate piece, would make it easier to move if needed, and have the front part kind of like a door so that I have access. Will also need cross bars to hang lights and heaters

Having smallish gaps I don't think should pose a real problem.

Getting the door figured out will be the hardest part.

I guess with that size hide I could make a small hole and mount a che in the hide roof, if it is even needed if it is closed
 

Tom

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Home Depot will custom make a window for you. They work perfectly for the front of the enclosure and just mount right into place. The more gaps you have, the harder it is to maintain temps and humidity and having the heating and lighting equipment on top can create a chimney effect that will suck your warm humid air up and out into the room. Every enclosure is different, so no matter what you build you will have to set it up, run it, make adjustments and monitor it as the seasons and temperatures change.
 

Irish

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Jimmy Dean said:
I do not have any tortoises yet, and have no reptile experience. I have however been doing a lot of reading, and I stayed at a H o l iday Inn last night.
I am looking at getting 3 Sulcatas eventually.

How do y’all typically keep the hide at 100% or close to that on the humidity?

I do not believe you need 100 percent humidity for Sulcatas, that may do them more harm than good given their native habitat.
 

Jimmy Dean

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Tom and others recommend 100% in the hide and as high as you can everywhere else I believe.

I think I've figured a way to make the front swivel up.

I'll build 2x2 uprights, about 20", full border with 1x3s on top and 1x2s on bottom, but frame will be 1" short of the front. Will include a full 2x2 frame on the upper side with cross members to hang lights. For the front will be a 1x2 and 1x3 frame that will have hinges on top to the upper 2x2 frame, will have a post to hold it up.

Still trying to figure out how to make the front look clean, I should've done the bottom a tad differant. I did some decorative routing that will make it hard to make the top match the bottom......unless.....

Think I've got an idea, will take some work. Gonna take a whole since hunting season is almost here.

Is it bad that this is what is on my mind while at the bar?
 

Tom

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Irish said:
I do not believe you need 100 percent humidity for Sulcatas, that may do them more harm than good given their native habitat.

We have learned much about their native habitat and their behavior in the last couple of years. Previous assumptions of desert-like conditions have proven to be wrong.

What do you think the humidity is like during the hot, wet, marshy, rainy season that the babies hatch in to? How wet and humid do you think it is at the base of chest high weeds that are so thick you can't walk through them on a rainy 100 degree day? THIS is the native habitat of the hatchling sulcata. It is anything but dry.

Please give this a read:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-15137.html

And this:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-32333.html
 
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