Experiment #3, 2011

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kbaker

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Tom said:
These three babies perked up out in the sun today and now they are back in a "conventional" set up. They seem to be perfectly fine now, but I am not willing to risk it. Hmm, now that I think about it these babies seemed to be favoring sitting in the sun a lot lately, even on hot days, when all the other babies hid out in the shade in their respective sunning enclosures. All the sunning enclosures are side by side and subject to the same conditions, but I almost always found these guys sitting in direct sunlight, right next to the shade. Maybe 92 just isn't warm enough for long term health on sulcatas. They seemed to be craving more warmth than my other 15 hatchlings whenever they were outside.

If this is true then it is more torwards what I would recommend...and that is to allow them to heat up as much as they want with a range of temps. They may not need the higher heat every day or often, but when they want it, they should have it.

Good work, Tom.
 

Kristina

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#5 here - Mine are in the same weight range as yours, Tom. They are growing a bit slower than Maggie's but are absolutely and completely smooth. They have been outside from the day I got them, they use their caves to sleep in and mostly graze on what is growing in their enclosure, although I do pick weeds from other areas in the yard and feed them to them. Shells are hardening appropriately, they are active (and of course adorable) and seem to be doing really well. I am trying to come up with an alternative heating source for their winter enclosure, rather than heat lamps. As most know I do not use UV lighting during the winter months, so that opens up a few options. I am thinking of radiant heat panels or some sort of infrared to more closely mimic the sun's rays rather than just blasting them with high temps.

Now, my 8 month olds that were bred by Kevin - they were inside for most of their lives, but they were starting to pyramid just slightly (still really pleased with how they look.) They have been outside for two months now, and their growth has slowed, but, it has also smoothed.
 

Tom

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Kristina, how much do they bask in comparison to babies that are mostly kept indoors and just occasionally put outside for sun? I see a pretty typical range of basking time in most of my groups, but for the last couple of weeks or so, I noticed these guys basking much more than the norm when they were outside. My other group in the "humid chamber" are doing fine. They have the option of warming up to 92 on their Kane heat mat or cooling off when they want to. I see them thermoregulating throughout the day. This is one reason why I'm a bit perplexed. 92 seems to be fine for the other ones, but they choose to be warmer or cooler. An ambient of 92 seems to not be suiting these guys over the long term...
 

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Are you doing anything special with the ivories? Or are they being raised in a more traditional method! And how about some photos!;)
 

Tom

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DeanS said:
Are you doing anything special with the ivories? Or are they being raised in a more traditional method! And how about some photos!;)

Hi Dean. They are in a more conventional set up. Kind of the same way I did last years EOP torts. They are growing slower than the rest, but steadily growing. Richard says that the Ivories usually do grow a little slower than the normal ones. Time will tell. I'll try to find the time to get some pics up for you.
 

Tom

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Kevin, do you think that at a higher daily ambient temp, that this would still work? Maybe 94, 96, maybe 100?

What temp do you think would be "optimal" for sulcatas. I've always done conventional basking spots and this was an attempt to get away from that dry overhead heat, yet still keep them warm enough. For me, in my enclosures, right around 100 seems to be the perfect basking temp. Any lower and they just park under it all day long. Much higher than that and they tend to avoid it or just sit on the outskirts of it for short periods of time.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.
 

Kristina

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Personally, I think that 92 ambient is too high. I watch my torts hit the shade in 82 degree ambient weather. I think keeping them that hot long term is the problem. The need to be able to cool down.

Mine bask in the early morning, same as the rest of my torts, and hit the caves in the afternoon. I don't notice longer basking times. Perhaps yours were basking longer because they had been kept so warm for their whole lives that they had adapted and felt "cold" otherwise. Like when someone from Virginia visits Michigan during the summer, and has to wear long sleeves and pants, while us native Michiganders are roasting in tank tops and shorts!

All guess-work, of course.
 

kbaker

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Tom said:
Kevin, do you think that at a higher daily ambient temp, that this would still work? Maybe 94, 96, maybe 100?

What temp do you think would be "optimal" for sulcatas. I've always done conventional basking spots and this was an attempt to get away from that dry overhead heat, yet still keep them warm enough. For me, in my enclosures, right around 100 seems to be the perfect basking temp. Any lower and they just park under it all day long. Much higher than that and they tend to avoid it or just sit on the outskirts of it for short periods of time.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.

First there is a difference between maintaining them outside and inside. Just like box turtles, Sulcatas do best outside. That is...you introduce them to mild temps so they learn what is too hot and what is too cold. They do best long term outside.

Well, like most everyone else...you have to keep them inside for some period of time. I think anything over 90F long term is too high for ambient temps. Of course they will be fine at higher and lower temps for periods of time (how long?....it doesn't really matter).

I would shoot for 80-85F ambient. But now you introduce a basking area to help regulate temps. The topic here is not what or how you do it, but what temps to shoot for long term. I would say a basking area of about 100F is good. If they are recovering from some kind of illness, pushing 120F. 90F is low for a basking area and you are coming close to ambient temps then.

The big issue with some here is that a basking area is drying. If used badly, yes. If the basking area got to 105F and the ambient went to 75F, that would be drying. Well, you have a few short term options...up the humidity, adjust the temps or let it pass because it was a super hot day and the A/C isn't working. A sulcata would be fine either way.

With the experiment, I think two things happened that caused failure...they did not have a basking area warm enough to bask for a short period and then regulate by moving around the cage. Second is...the constant 92F burnt them out. They were just above idle for so long and hit the wall.

The tortoise/turtles that do best for me are the ones that live with the lows and highs and the cycles of temps. This does not mean force them to extremes, but if a single night fell to 60F you don't have to rush them in. If it peaks at 100F, a sulcata will find its shade or dig a hole (of course they like a little hose down or available shade).


Kevin, do you think that at a higher daily ambient temp, that this would still work? Maybe 94, 96, maybe 100?
No, its ambient - go lower.
Try again maybe with 85F.

I've always done conventional basking spots and this was an attempt to get away from that dry overhead heat, yet still keep them warm enough.
This is where humidity and low air flow come into play.

For me, in my enclosures, right around 100 seems to be the perfect basking temp. Any lower and they just park under it all day long. Much higher than that and they tend to avoid it or just sit on the outskirts of it for short periods of time.
You got it when you said they sit on the outskirts...that's why you need a basking AREA. They will find the sweet spot if you give it to them.
And they will find the hot spot when they need the boost.
 

Tom

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Final update. These little babies immediately went back to "normal" as soon as they got into a "conventional" set up. I kept them for a while to make sure they were healthy and growing again and now they have been sold to good homes. This story has a happy ending. :)
 

Balboa

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Interesting results Tom, I seem to have missed out on much of this thread until you just updated.

I think Kevin (darn I think I always call him Keith, oops) brought up some good points. Some food for thought here.
 

Levendis

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Tom,

Thanks for the updates and the informative experiment. Do you think it's possible that the hatchlings became uncomfortable simply due to lack of oxygen that day? I don't know how this setup gets fresh air inside, but would think that a slight blockage of the air intake might make the inside very uncomfortable.

Keep relative humidity high throughout the enclosure while having a temp gradient of more than 20'F seems very difficult for me as well. Currently I'm trying a new setup where I have a 60W ceramic heat bulb pointed at the humid hide to lure the sulcata hatchling to go inside the hide when nighttime ambient falls to around 80'F. (My daytime ambient is 85'F, and basking temp is around 95'F.

L
 

Yvonne G

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Please excuse this small foray into the OT realm...

He Levendis:

Won't you take a few moments to start a new thread in the "introductions" section and tell us a bit about yourself?
 
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