Hey there! First- time tortoise Mom here

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
684
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Thank you, thank you! I would not be here if I didn't want all of this great advice I have been getting! I am just starting out and I really want to do everything as perfectly as I can for him. The moss has been removed (I thought it was pretty, but not worth health probs!) and since I have reptisoil mixed in, the humidity retention should be just fine without it. Pellets are now soaking also!

I did mis-understand about the height thing! And his current enclosure is only 39.5" x 20.4". I now know that he needs more room to roam with taller walls. (Still much better than the 20 gallon fish tank they sold me to keep him in- which has since been returned!!) I am not great at building, what would be a good starter enclosure that I could buy for him?

Keep the advice coming! I am not offended at all and would like to implement these changes ASAP for Otie. :)
You are the best kind of tortoise owner. I love that you’re open to learning and improving Otis’ environment. We’ve all had some missteps when starting out, so know that you’re not alone. I personally am not aware of an enclosure large enough for you to buy. Does there happen to be anyone handy in your family? Or a handy friend or neighbour? The good news is that an adult Russian can be in a tortoise table style of enclosure which is easier to make or have made. Some people use regular old plywood, but more people are moving towards using a material called expanded pvc. Expanded pvc is water and heat resistant, so you don’t have to worry about using chemicals for waterproofing and you don’t have to worry about it moulding or rotting. I recently had a tortoise table style of enclosure made for my 2 year old Hermann’s tortoise. I’m not handy either, so I had no choice but to hire someone to make it. If you’d like to see it, I’ve got some pictures posted here:


If you don’t want to have someone make one for you, you could look into a hard walled swimming pool. They come in all shapes and sizes and work well for some people. I’m in Canada, so there may be options available in the US that I’m not aware of for a proper pre-made tortoise table style enclosure that would be large enough. I’m sure someone else will chime in, if this is the case.
 
Joined
Apr 23, 2021
Messages
21
Location (City and/or State)
Castle Rock, Colorado
You are the best kind of tortoise owner. I love that you’re open to learning and improving Otis’ environment. We’ve all had some missteps when starting out, so know that you’re not alone. I personally am not aware of an enclosure large enough for you to buy. Does there happen to be anyone handy in your family? Or a handy friend or neighbour? The good news is that an adult Russian can be in a tortoise table style of enclosure which is easier to make or have made. Some people use regular old plywood, but more people are moving towards using a material called expanded pvc. Expanded pvc is water and heat resistant, so you don’t have to worry about using chemicals for waterproofing and you don’t have to worry about it moulding or rotting. I recently had a tortoise table style of enclosure made for my 2 year old Hermann’s tortoise. I’m not handy either, so I had no choice but to hire someone to make it. If you’d like to see it, I’ve got some pictures posted here:


If you don’t want to have someone make one for you, you could look into a hard walled swimming pool. They come in all shapes and sizes and work well for some people. I’m in Canada, so there may be options available in the US that I’m not aware of for a proper pre-made tortoise table style enclosure that would be large enough. I’m sure someone else will chime in, if this is the case.
WOW!!! Dozer's habitat= GOALS!! Absolutely incredible!
 

timus

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5 Year Member
Joined
May 19, 2015
Messages
66
Location (City and/or State)
Eastern Shore of Maryland
I think the percentage on the bulb is dependent upon the enclosure. If you are unable to hang a 12% bulb high enough it would be to much exposure.
 
Joined
Apr 23, 2021
Messages
21
Location (City and/or State)
Castle Rock, Colorado
I think the percentage on the bulb is dependent upon the enclosure. If you are unable to hang a 12% bulb high enough it would be to much exposure.
I am going to make a home depot run and they carry T5 bulbs. What wattage, etc. should I look for? The Arcadia site does not say any other specifics on the bulb type (that I am seeing anyways)
 

Krista S

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Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
684
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Home Depot won’t have the bulb you need. You need either the Arcadia 12% or the ZooMed reptisun 10.0 T5HO. Both of these provide the spectrum of UV your little guy requires. The packaging will give recommendations on how high the fixture should be from the tortoise. I wouldn’t get the fixture from the hardware store either. I’d stick with Arcadia, ZooMed or another good option is the Sun Blaster fixtures (on amazon). If you go with the Sun Blaster fixture, make sure you get the fixture with the reflector on it. The bulb that comes with this fixture is not the bulb your tortoise needs, so you have to buy the proper bulb separately. I use the sun blaster fixture with reflector and the ZooMed reptisun 10.0. If you want to invest in the Solarmeter it is the Solarmeter 6.5 or 6.5r that you want. They’re expensive but worth the investment. You will be able to fine tune the height your fixture should be at and remove all the guess work. The other advantage is, without the meter it’s recommended to replace your bulb every 6 months to ensure your bulb is putting out the proper UV levels. With the meter you won’t need to replace the bulb until it’s necessary. Arcadia bulbs seem to last the longest. Some on here have been using the same bulb for 3 years. At this rate, you get your money back on the meter pretty quickly from not having to buy unnecessary bulbs. I wanted the Arcadia bulb, but when I needed it, it wasn’t available anywhere locally or online. I’ve been happy with the reptisun though. I’ve been using the bulb for 7 months and I’m still getting the same UV reading with my Solarmeter.
 

KarenSoCal

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Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 8, 2017
Messages
5,139
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Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
Awesome, I will buy that fixture! Which bulb should I get? There are 3 options- 14%, 12%, or 6%? I am guessing the 12% Desert but would like to know your recommendation before I purchase.
Wow! You've really covered some ground in one day! :)
@Krista S has been giving you excellent advice! Yes, you want the 12% desert from Arcadia, or a 10 from Reptisun. You buy them by their length, not wattage. A 22" bulb is 24 watts, and the wattage goes up as the bulb length goes up. And a 22" bulb goes into a 24" fixture.

If you can find someone to build it for you, some people repurpose an old bookcase for a tort table. Lay it on its back, remove the shelves, line it with pond liner, and decorate. You could even get 2 and combine them for a huge table, if you have space for it.
 
Joined
Apr 23, 2021
Messages
21
Location (City and/or State)
Castle Rock, Colorado
Wow! You've really covered some ground in one day! :)
@Krista S has been giving you excellent advice! Yes, you want the 12% desert from Arcadia, or a 10 from Reptisun. You buy them by their length, not wattage. A 22" bulb is 24 watts, and the wattage goes up as the bulb length goes up. And a 22" bulb goes into a 24" fixture.

If you can find someone to build it for you, some people repurpose an old bookcase for a tort table. Lay it on its back, remove the shelves, line it with pond liner, and decorate. You could even get 2 and combine them for a huge table, if you have space for it.
I ordered the sunblaster fixture with the reflector and a I’ll pick up a 22” reptisun 10.0 from the store! I didn’t want to pay almost $20 for shipping through Arcadia 😬 and that’s funny you mention the bookcase idea!! I ordered one from Amazon last night that hubby will put together for me 😍
 
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