Husbandry Advice For Adult Horsfield

Tommy03

New Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
England
Hello,

I’m currently in the progress of making some pretty urgent changes for my adult Horsfield tortoise (Tommy) after realising that I was previously misinformed. I would really appreciate some advice on the following as to whether I am now on the right track & for some queries to be clarified.
  • Enclosure: I have just cancelled an order for a tortoise table due to concerns about not being able to maintain temperatures, especially at night. I was originally put off vivariums due to the bad complaints but have read through threads mentioning that closed chambers would be suitable in circumstances such as mine if big enough (thank you so much @Tom for your useful info!). I am considering ordering this one, assuming 2ft is high enough for lighting/heating: https://southdown-aquatics.co.uk/shop/8ft-vivariums/8ft-x-2ft-h-x-3ft-d-vivarium-copy/
  • Substrate: I am going to buy some fine grade orchid bark but was hoping for some advice as how to dampen it? I want to make sure I get the humidity right & am worried that it’ll be too damp and cause him respiratory infections, etc. Would a hygrometer be recommended?
  • I am looking at getting him the Arcadia Basking Solar Flood Lamp with a reflector & the Arcadia Pro T5 UVB Kit 12% Desert, although I’m unsure about wattage. Would these be suitable, & is any other form of lighting necessary/have I missed anything? Are they both to be kept on for 12 hours daily? He’ll spend most of the time indoors although I’ll let him outside in a large enclosure when it’s warmer. Any recommendations for thermometers & their placement in the enclosure?
  • I have got him a terracotta plant saucer for water and a food slate, & intend on placing stones around them. Other than a humid hide, what kind of décor would be good?
  • Food: I am getting some seeds to grow weeds like dandelions but in the meantime, he has been eating lambs lettuce, Florette crispy salad & romaine lettuce. When the weeds have grown, what ratio roughly should he be fed weeds & lambs lettuce, etc? Also, I am a little confused how to feed him as much as his shell, like how heaped it should be? I have Nutrobal to give him twice a week & Calci dust for the remaining days, and he also has a cuttlefish.
  • Bath: I bath him twice weekly with a baby toothbrush. Does the water need changing when it's too dirty from defecation/the temperature drops?
  • General care: Does he need his beak & nails trimmed by a vet if he has a cuttlefish & food slate? How do I know he's the correct weight at 16cm?
Sorry for all the questions & long post. I’m just desperate to ensure he’s happy & healthy. Thanks in advance!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
52,543
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello,

I’m currently in the progress of making some pretty urgent changes for my adult Horsfield tortoise (Tommy) after realising that I was previously misinformed. I would really appreciate some advice on the following as to whether I am now on the right track & for some queries to be clarified.
  • Enclosure: I have just cancelled an order for a tortoise table due to concerns about not being able to maintain temperatures, especially at night. I was originally put off vivariums due to the bad complaints but have read through threads mentioning that closed chambers would be suitable in circumstances such as mine if big enough (thank you so much @Tom for your useful info!). I am considering ordering this one, assuming 2ft is high enough for lighting/heating: https://southdown-aquatics.co.uk/shop/8ft-vivariums/8ft-x-2ft-h-x-3ft-d-vivarium-copy/
  • Substrate: I am going to buy some fine grade orchid bark but was hoping for some advice as how to dampen it? I want to make sure I get the humidity right & am worried that it’ll be too damp and cause him respiratory infections, etc. Would a hygrometer be recommended?
  • I am looking at getting him the Arcadia Basking Solar Flood Lamp with a reflector & the Arcadia Pro T5 UVB Kit 12% Desert, although I’m unsure about wattage. Would these be suitable, & is any other form of lighting necessary/have I missed anything? Are they both to be kept on for 12 hours daily? He’ll spend most of the time indoors although I’ll let him outside in a large enclosure when it’s warmer. Any recommendations for thermometers & their placement in the enclosure?
  • I have got him a terracotta plant saucer for water and a food slate, & intend on placing stones around them. Other than a humid hide, what kind of décor would be good?
  • Food: I am getting some seeds to grow weeds like dandelions but in the meantime, he has been eating lambs lettuce, Florette crispy salad & romaine lettuce. When the weeds have grown, what ratio roughly should he be fed weeds & lambs lettuce, etc? Also, I am a little confused how to feed him as much as his shell, like how heaped it should be? I have Nutrobal to give him twice a week & Calci dust for the remaining days, and he also has a cuttlefish.
  • Bath: I bath him twice weekly with a baby toothbrush. Does the water need changing when it's too dirty from defecation/the temperature drops?
  • General care: Does he need his beak & nails trimmed by a vet if he has a cuttlefish & food slate? How do I know he's the correct weight at 16cm?
Sorry for all the questions & long post. I’m just desperate to ensure he’s happy & healthy. Thanks in advance!
I'll answer one by one, but most of what you need is explained right here:

And more lighting info:
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html Here in our climate, you shouldn't need indoor UV.
Your questions:
1. That enclosure looks great. I didn't know anyone in the UK made anything so big. Great find!
2. Fine grade orchid bark is great. Just dump water on it. How much and how often varies with each enclosure, and the weather, season, etc... Yes you need a hygrometer. No other way to know humidity.
3. See my notes above for lighting info.
4. Sounds like you've got the main stuff. Add large rocks, logs, or potted plants if you want.
5. Easy on the vitamin and calcium supplements. You don't need much with a good varied diet. Too much can be detrimental. Feed the tortoise as much as it will eat of the right foods daily. See the care sheet for more info.
6. Adults don't need to be soaked often. Once or twice a week will ensure good hydration and prevent problems. No need to scrub. You can replace the water as much as you want, and yes, keep the water warm for the whole soak.
7. They shouldn't need beak or nail trimming in most circumstances. Post a pic for us if you are unsure. He should feel have for his size.

Feel free to ask more questions. :)
 

Tommy03

New Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
England
I'll answer one by one, but most of what you need is explained right here:

And more lighting info:
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html Here in our climate, you shouldn't need indoor UV.
Your questions:
1. That enclosure looks great. I didn't know anyone in the UK made anything so big. Great find!
2. Fine grade orchid bark is great. Just dump water on it. How much and how often varies with each enclosure, and the weather, season, etc... Yes you need a hygrometer. No other way to know humidity.
3. See my notes above for lighting info.
4. Sounds like you've got the main stuff. Add large rocks, logs, or potted plants if you want.
5. Easy on the vitamin and calcium supplements. You don't need much with a good varied diet. Too much can be detrimental. Feed the tortoise as much as it will eat of the right foods daily. See the care sheet for more info.
6. Adults don't need to be soaked often. Once or twice a week will ensure good hydration and prevent problems. No need to scrub. You can replace the water as much as you want, and yes, keep the water warm for the whole soak.
7. They shouldn't need beak or nail trimming in most circumstances. Post a pic for us if you are unsure. He should feel have for his size.

Feel free to ask more questions. :)
Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate it.

Apparently incandescent flood bulbs have been phased out in the UK so was wondering if you know of any suitable alternatives? Am I right in thinking that the basking bulb needs a reflector? In the Summer, I may not need the UV if he’s outside enough but I think I’ll get a bulb for the rest of the year – probably the Arcadia Pro T5 UVB Kit 12% Desert if appropriate. Do you have a particular way that you position these 4 elements throughout the enclosure?

This may sound like a silly question, but do you have a thermometer/hygrometer in the enclosure at all times or do you check the temperature/humidity periodically? I am looking at one of the Acurite models.

Thank you so much again :)
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
52,543
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate it.

Apparently incandescent flood bulbs have been phased out in the UK so was wondering if you know of any suitable alternatives? Am I right in thinking that the basking bulb needs a reflector? In the Summer, I may not need the UV if he’s outside enough but I think I’ll get a bulb for the rest of the year – probably the Arcadia Pro T5 UVB Kit 12% Desert if appropriate. Do you have a particular way that you position these 4 elements throughout the enclosure?

This may sound like a silly question, but do you have a thermometer/hygrometer in the enclosure at all times or do you check the temperature/humidity periodically? I am looking at one of the Acurite models.

Thank you so much again :)
We are having the same problem with incandescent bulbs here in CA too. I have friends order them out of state and ship them to me. I don't have a good alternative right now. I do use 11" hoods for my basking bulbs. Inside mt closed chambers, they are just flush mounted sockets, so no reflectors in there.

The Arcadia 12% HO tubes are great. Very strong. Mount them at least 18 inches away, and only run them for about 3 hours mid day. This simulates the UV spike that happens outside every day, and also makes the expensive bulbs last for years.

Yes on the thermo/hygro. I use the Accurite brand.
 

Tommy03

New Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
England
We are having the same problem with incandescent bulbs here in CA too. I have friends order them out of state and ship them to me. I don't have a good alternative right now. I do use 11" hoods for my basking bulbs. Inside mt closed chambers, they are just flush mounted sockets, so no reflectors in there.

The Arcadia 12% HO tubes are great. Very strong. Mount them at least 18 inches away, and only run them for about 3 hours mid day. This simulates the UV spike that happens outside every day, and also makes the expensive bulbs last for years.

Yes on the thermo/hygro. I use the Accurite brand.
Thanks again for your help.

I'll order that Arcadia UV tube and 2 Acurite meters but have looked everywhere and it doesn't look like I'll be able to get the incandescent flood bulb. As I don't think either are spot bulbs, I was looking at the below as alternatives. Do either of these seem suitable?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000633UQW/?tag=
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B018QYK0Y2/?tag=

Also, do you use reptile specific CHEs?
 

Dcatalano

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2021
Messages
41
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
Thanks again for your help.

I'll order that Arcadia UV tube and 2 Acurite meters but have looked everywhere and it doesn't look like I'll be able to get the incandescent flood bulb. As I don't think either are spot bulbs, I was looking at the below as alternatives. Do either of these seem suitable?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000633UQW/?tag=
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B018QYK0Y2/?tag=

Also, do you use reptile specific CHEs?
I have similar questions. I know I don’t have the correct lighting but I am confused about what I need. How is your set up going?
 

Tommy03

New Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2021
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
England
I have similar questions. I know I don’t have the correct lighting but I am confused about what I need. How is your set up going?
I'm currently waiting on his new vivarium to arrive so have just been getting everything together in the meantime. I can't get any incandescent floods here so have instead had to order an Arcadia Basking Flood 75W (not spotlight) and their reflector hood, and the Arcadia Pro T5 UVB Kit. I also have purchased an Arcadia CHE 100W (with a ceramic fitting & wire cage) so a thermostat can turn it on if the temperature drops overnight. I'm also looking at something like a kitchen LED strip for ambient lighting in case it's too dark when the UV isn't on.

The thing I'm not 100% sure about is if 1 basking lamp (& 1 CHE) will be enough in a 8x3ft enclosure, and how exactly all the bulbs should be arranged in order to keep a temperature gradient. I'm learning everything myself at the moment so would listen to the much more experienced people on here, like Tom's helpful threads. Hope you figure everything out :)
 
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