How to keep humidity down

Mons

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How do I keep the humidity for my 2 1/2 year old tortoise between 40% and 60%? I believe I read that that's what it should be for a Russian tortoise around his age.

His cage is 4x2x1.5 (I think it's this one from AP cages https://apcages.com/collections/terrestrial-cages/products/t11-48l-x-24w-x-18h), has a long UVB bulb on 12 hrs a day, has a CHE, has a warm hide and cool hide, has two small vents in the back, a tortoise-sized water dish (planter saucer), and I'm slowly switching the substrate away from aspen shavings to orchid bark.

I recently bought GreenAll Microbark from a plant nursery nearby (like this https://www.ebstone.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Micro-Bark-400x713.jpg), based on information I read in this forum for where to find orchid bark. I added enough to fill half the cage last week, making it maybe 4 inches or so deep so that my tortoise could burrow into it. I stuck a humidity monitor in there, something similar to this one https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H1R0K68/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20. After I did that, the humidity gauge went from I think 30% to 80% within hours. To bring it back down, I opened the glass cage doors a bit, and added back more aspen shavings, which helped, although I know that stuff is too drying, hence trying to switch. I also turned the heat up a degree. Got things down to 68%. Now that some days have passed, it's mostly staying between 35% and 65% (the higher humidity at night).

For the first couple of years, I bought CaribSea Coco Soft coco coir (like this one https://www.happypet.co.uk/komodo-orchid-bark-forest-terrain.html but not from that shop), until that became unavailable. Then, after a vet suggested I try orchid bark, I switched to Komodo orchid bark online (like this one https://www.happypet.co.uk/komodo-orchid-bark-forest-terrain.html) from other countries (Canada mainly), and then stopped being able to find that too. My tortoise seemed to get perfect bills of health from his primary vet all that time. I wasn't gauging the humidity until just this year, but the glass doors to his cage never fogged up, and with the GreenAll microbark they did.

I'd like to switch him over entirely to this stuff, since I know he shouldn't be on aspen shavings or such dry substrate, but suspect the humidity will jump again, and I don't want to do this incorrectly. Anyone have any tips on how to keep the humidity down?
 
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Tom

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First, no need to keep the humidity down. Your tortoise will be fine with higher humidity. Many Russians live outdoors in GA, Southeastern TX, LA, FL, MS, AL, and they do just fine with 80-100% humidity. I think 40-60% is too low for a growing baby anyway.

The bark comes damp in the bag. You can leave the doors slightly open and let it air out. It will eventually dry out some.

I don't see any mention of a basking light. Your tortoise needs one. A CHE is not a substitute because it makes no light. CHEs are for maintaining ambient heat, if needed.
 

Mons

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I've been stressing about it being too humid all week. Ok that's helpful to know it's okay if it's higher. Thank you! I thought 2 1/2 years older qualified as older, but given how long they can live, I can see that that still qualifies as a baby.

Yeah that is correct, I don't have a basking light. :/ On another thread, somebody told me I should do that. I haven't yet because I'm not quite sure how to go about doing that. The cage is I think made of melamine, or just really thick plastic. We drilled a couple of holes in the sides so that we could have the thermostat and thermometers on both sides to regulate the heat, but that's been the extent of any handiwork.

Have you by any chance ever modified a cage like that? There are probably YouTube videos I could find as well, so I think I will look this weekend, but I would love advice on how to do that. I would think it would need to be an actual fixture in the cage ceiling. No clue where to start.

Thank you for the advice!

An aside: It seems like you and a bunch of the other long-timers on here put a lot of time and energy into helping the rest of us be better tortoise parents. Thanks to you all, loads of tortoises are living better lives.
 
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Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
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Messages
52,543
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I've been stressing about it being too humid all week. Ok that's helpful to know it's okay if it's higher. Thank you! I thought 2 1/2 years older qualified as older, but given how long they can live, I can see that that still qualifies as a baby.

Yeah that is correct, I don't have a basking light. :/ On another thread, somebody told me I should do that. I haven't yet because I'm not quite sure how to go about doing that. The cage is I think made of melamine, or just really thick plastic. We drilled a couple of holes in the sides so that we could have the thermostat and thermometers on both sides to regulate the heat, but that's been the extent of any handiwork.

Have you by any chance ever modified a cage like that? There are probably YouTube videos I could find as well, so I think I will look this weekend, but I would love advice on how to do that. I would think it would need to be an actual fixture in the cage ceiling. No clue where to start.

Thank you for the advice!

An aside: It seems like you and a bunch of the other long-timers on here put a lot of time and energy into helping the rest of us be better tortoise parents. Thanks to you all, loads of tortoises are living better lives.
You probably don't need the CHE. Its good for Russians to be cooler at night and your room temp should be fine. The basking lamp and florescent UV tube will heat up the whole enclosure during the day when they are on.

If your enclosure is only 18" tall, you'll need to mount a flush light socket to the ceiling. If you aren't sure about this, call in some help from a handyman or electrician. Its really easy once you see it done once or twice.
 

Mons

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Er... I have a follow-up question. I have a red basking bulb on hand, so I replaced the CHE with the basking bulb this morning to see how that goes. It's this one, at 100w.

99046._AC_SL1500_V1458161164_.jpg

The ceramic heat emitter was connected to the thermostat to regulate the temperature, and the basking light is now in its place using the existing socket in the cage, so the thermostat is regulating the heat coming from the bulb, which causes the basking bulb to turn on and off throughout the day. Is that okay? I'm guessing it isn't because that means even though the temperature stays controlled, the basking bulb isn't consistently on this way.

That makes me think I really should try to figure out mounting a new flush light socket in his cage, and then have the basking bulb not run on the thermostat, and keep the CHE as it was.

I now recall that we first tried using a basking bulb when we got Shelly, but weren't sure about the constant on-off action, so switched to the CHE in addition to the long UVB light. The UVB is the only other fixture and gets replaced every six months.

99039._AC_SL1500_V1458161160_.jpg

Sorry for the ramble. :/
 
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