Indoor Year Round

shawngt2

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I guess I am one of those people that may have purchased a Hermann's without researching in full. I have EVERYTHING setup per Tom's care sheet. Enclosed, substrate, UVB, Humidity, lighting, temperatures, etc. But, I may not be able to provide outdoor pen in the summer. Does anyone have luck keeping their tortoises healthy year round indoors? I realize it is likely more work because you have to pick weeds daily vs letting them graze naturally and get natural sunlight. Ugh...Looking for some hope or else I am too much a perfectionist to let this tortoise live in bad conditions under my watch...
 

Krista S

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If you’ve got everything set up per Tom’s care sheet, I doubt your tortoise is living in “bad conditions“. Being in Canada we have to try harder and put in more effort because of our climate. My tortoise will be 2 in a little more than a month and he’s never been able to live outside. He can make the occasional visit to the outdoors for the few handfuls of days in the year that the temperatures are appropriate for him, but he lives indoors year round. I just try and make my enclosure the best it can be and interesting for my Hermann’s to want to explore. If you’re dedicated to staying on top of temps, humidity, UV, diet, enrichment, etc I believe they can live a healthy and happy life indoors. If they have to live indoors year round and you can‘t provide them with an appropriate sized enclosure, then that’s a different story. I love my tortoise more than I ever knew was possible. If I ever felt for even a moment that he wasn’t living a fulfilled life, I wouldn’t have him anymore but I believe he is thriving in his environment.
 

ZenHerper

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Krista's rocking indoor set up:
 

wellington

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I'm sure if done right they can do fine totally inside.
My opinion, it's not fair to the tort to never get outside. Just think if you never got to go outside and humans are born inside.
Even if it's just for a short period a couple times a week during the summer months. If you don't have a chemical free yard, ask around for parks or friends/family. If you can find a place to take him do make a portable enclosure to put him in as they can get lost very easy.
A couple ideas. A large tote box with bottom cut out. A puppy play pen the fencing kind. Some kind of plastic landscaping fencing.
 

jsheffield

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I'm a bit south (and East) of you, but my 4 Russians live inside most of the year, and we have snow covering the weeds for most of the year as well.

I feed them a spring mix from my supermarket, and supplement it with some more nutritious greens (beet greens, chard, escarole, raddichio, etc) and also with some dried plant matter (hibiscus flowers, wakame seaweed, opuntia flour) that I shake on top of their daily salads.

I also feed each of mine about a tablespoon of either butternut or spaghetti squash or pumpkin 1-2 times a week... I buy a bunch, cut them into cubes, and freeze what I cannot feed that day.

I get mine out on days when it's over 65F, and from the way they zoom around nibbling and exploring you can tell that they love it.

Not exactly the same thing as you're dealing with, but maybe close enough to give you some help (I hope so).

Jamie
 

shawngt2

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Wow, Krista, that's a nice setup! I guess the only potential problem would be humidity upkeep being open top and all. Imagine you are on top of the humid hide (not physically of course, lol.!

Thanks All for your responses. Great to hear there are others who are having success raising tortoises primarily indoors. I am however, trying to understand the difference of raising other reptiles indoors full time (like a beardie for example). They get artificial light, limited foods compared to what they would receive in the wild and can live quite good lives indoors. Maybe tortoises have such a bad rap because of their shells and the visiual signs that you are doing something wrong is more apparent? I agree, it can't be impossible and you can say that all reptiles are ideal to be outside as they are all wild animals at heart, but of course some are easier than others (snakes for example). Also, not sure if a tortoise will be miserable if inside. That kind of implies that they have feelings and preferences. Sure, it allows them to graze all day on a living multitude of selection and bask in the real sun, but do they sit there and think "I never want to go inside again"? Don't think so. Sure I'm missing something.

I'm a perfectionist by nature and believe that leads me to be a good tortoise keeper, but the outdoors thing and the limitations of building a pen outdoors got the best of me last night and was feeling maybe I did the wrong thing to get NuNu. I certainly got some nice hot and humid weather in Toronto during the summer months, but limited with a hard scape back yard which is not ideal for live plants and grass to grow in. Curious if anyone has made a pen that lays on top of patio stones or asphalt? That's all I have in the back yard. Another possibility would be a raised tortoise table in the back yard. Is that an OK idea or would it just get too hot because the whole thing is in the air?
 

shawngt2

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I feed them a spring mix from my supermarket, and supplement it with some more nutritious greens (beet greens, chard, escarole, raddichio, etc) and also with some dried plant matter (hibiscus flowers, wakame seaweed, opuntia flour) that I shake on top of their daily salads.

I also feed each of mine about a tablespoon of either butternut or spaghetti squash or pumpkin 1-2 times a week... I buy a bunch, cut them into cubes, and freeze what I cannot feed that day.
Hey Jamie, Thanks for the feeding tips!
 

Krista S

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Wow, Krista, that's a nice setup! I guess the only potential problem would be humidity upkeep being open top and all. Imagine you are on top of the humid hide (not physically of course, lol.!

Thanks All for your responses. Great to hear there are others who are having success raising tortoises primarily indoors. I am however, trying to understand the difference of raising other reptiles indoors full time (like a beardie for example). They get artificial light, limited foods compared to what they would receive in the wild and can live quite good lives indoors. Maybe tortoises have such a bad rap because of their shells and the visiual signs that you are doing something wrong is more apparent? I agree, it can't be impossible and you can say that all reptiles are ideal to be outside as they are all wild animals at heart, but of course some are easier than others (snakes for example). Also, not sure if a tortoise will be miserable if inside. That kind of implies that they have feelings and preferences. Sure, it allows them to graze all day on a living multitude of selection and bask in the real sun, but do they sit there and think "I never want to go inside again"? Don't think so. Sure I'm missing something.

I'm a perfectionist by nature and believe that leads me to be a good tortoise keeper, but the outdoors thing and the limitations of building a pen outdoors got the best of me last night and was feeling maybe I did the wrong thing to get NuNu. I certainly got some nice hot and humid weather in Toronto during the summer months, but limited with a hard scape back yard which is not ideal for live plants and grass to grow in. Curious if anyone has made a pen that lays on top of patio stones or asphalt? That's all I have in the back yard. Another possibility would be a raised tortoise table in the back yard. Is that an OK idea or would it just get too hot because the whole thing is in the air?
Thanks Shawn. I haven’t had any issues with humidity. I’ve been able to easily maintain 50 to 60% humidity so far. I think I‘m finding temps and humidity easy to maintain because it’s in a small bedroom on the 2nd floor of my house. If it was in a large wide open space, there’s no way I could have an open top. I had the walls of the enclosure made tall enough that I can fully enclose it down the road if needed though.
 

shawngt2

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Thanks Shawn. I haven’t had any issues with humidity. I’ve been able to easily maintain 50 to 60% humidity so far. I think I‘m finding temps and humidity easy to maintain because it’s in a small bedroom on the 2nd floor of my house. If it was in a large wide open space, there’s no way I could have an open top. I had the walls of the enclosure made tall enough that I can fully enclose it down the road if needed though.
Smart Cookie! I know that during the winter in Toronto when it is -20C outside my windows get dripping wet if above 35% humidity. I have a whole home humidifier and have to lower it to 25-30% max to keep the sweat off the windows. Glad you are able to maintain obove 50% in that COLD SASK weather.
 

Krista S

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Smart Cookie! I know that during the winter in Toronto when it is -20C outside my windows get dripping wet if above 35% humidity. I have a whole home humidifier and have to lower it to 25-30% max to keep the sweat off the windows. Glad you are able to maintain obove 50% in that COLD SASK weather.
Oh yes, the condensation on the windows is something I definitely have to stay on top of in Dozer’s bedroom. In the dead of winter it’s a daily chore. It’s not too big of a deal though.
 

Tom

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I guess I am one of those people that may have purchased a Hermann's without researching in full. I have EVERYTHING setup per Tom's care sheet. Enclosed, substrate, UVB, Humidity, lighting, temperatures, etc. But, I may not be able to provide outdoor pen in the summer. Does anyone have luck keeping their tortoises healthy year round indoors? I realize it is likely more work because you have to pick weeds daily vs letting them graze naturally and get natural sunlight. Ugh...Looking for some hope or else I am too much a perfectionist to let this tortoise live in bad conditions under my watch...
There is no reason it can't be done inside full time with smaller species. Just make sure you have the right UV bulbs and a meter to test it. And there is nothing wrong with collecting great weedy foods from outside and feeding them to your indoor tortoise. You'll also need a very large enclosure. This is an area you will not be able to skimp on. You'll need the full 4x8 feet, or larger, for a tortoise that won't be seeing the great outdoors.

I would hope that you could set up a kiddie pool or something, so the tortoise can get outside once in a while in summer, but this is not a deal breaker if not.
 

shawngt2

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I will have the luxury to let him out in the summer for sure, just difficult for me to setup a permanent outdoor pen outside on hard landscaped surfaces. I have a 20x20' back yard lot with laneway home and no grass. 20'x10 is full patio stones and the other 20'x10' is split between garage and asphalt parking spot. That's what you get for $1.2M in Toronto! LOL. I attached a photo below. Can either do an outdoor raised tortoise pen or built one on the patio stones, but concerned it will get to hot when the sun beats down. Would need a good shade solution to prevent the surrounding areas to overheat my little NuNu. LOL. Any solutions you may have all seen? Also, my back yard is on north side of the house, I do get sun on the far end of the lot and about half of the patio stones, but it is not the entire day, just peak hours 11-4pm and changes throughout the year.
 

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shawngt2

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Krista, I was looking at your enclosure again. If I'm a perfectionist, you're an astronaut! LOL I envision something like that but enclosed as I would not have a room dedicated for NuNu. Think Cornel's world, custom white PVC. Not sure if you seen my YouTube video of the attached photo enclosure (I deleted because I said Ummm like >100x in a 7 minute video). I will redo eventually, but I have all bases covered and was based on Tom's care sheet (Thanks Tom)!
 

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shawngt2

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There is no reason it can't be done inside full time with smaller species. Just make sure you have the right UV bulbs and a meter to test it. And there is nothing wrong with collecting great weedy foods from outside and feeding them to your indoor tortoise. You'll also need a very large enclosure. This is an area you will not be able to skimp on. You'll need the full 4x8 feet, or larger, for a tortoise that won't be seeing the great outdoors.

I would hope that you could set up a kiddie pool or something, so the tortoise can get outside once in a while in summer, but this is not a deal breaker if not.
Awesome. Glad to hear and that is my understanding as well. Of course it's ideal to be outdoors, but not impossible indoors if you have the bases covered. I do have a SolarMeter 6.5R and have a perfect 3.5 right at the location (substrate level) where his basking light gives off 95F/35C. Humidity, being enclosed, is very easy to take care of. During the date at the basking area goes down to 40%, but as soon as that turns off climbs to 80%. The cooler areas have better humidity as the basking bulb seems to dry things out (it's just a regular 60W incandescent bulb). I turned off my automatic misting system because every time I opened the door it was drenching the place. Likely better to set on a timer and I have yet to do that. Today, in Toronto, we just started getting dandelion and plantain leaves sprouting from the ground and I picked a good handful and gave to NuNu. He ate the most in one day that I have seen since 2 weeks I have had him/her (because I do not know the sex yet). To be honestly, I was feeling a little under the weather that I could not provide for him adequately, but seems that is not the case and glad! He is an absolute pleasure to watch and love his routine (especially his sleeping under the heat lamp in late afternoon!).
 

Krista S

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Krista, I was looking at your enclosure again. If I'm a perfectionist, you're an astronaut! LOL I envision something like that but enclosed as I would not have a room dedicated for NuNu. Think Cornel's world, custom white PVC. Not sure if you seen my YouTube video of the attached photo enclosure (I deleted because I said Ummm like >100x in a 7 minute video). I will redo eventually, but I have all bases covered and was based on Tom's care sheet (Thanks Tom)!
Well, I have been known to be a bit of a perfectionist myself lol. Honestly it took 5 months to find someone willing and able to source the material and build that enclosure. It was a terribly frustrating process, and I went through 3 different enclosure designs. As I came to realize that nobody wanted to help me, my design became more and more simple. All of that time gave me nothing to do but dream about what I wanted to do on the inside of the enclosure once I finally did have it. I did not see your video but the enclosure in your picture looks really cool! It’s a great place for your little Nunu to start out. I think us tortoise folks are a special breed of people who care deeply and have good attention to detail. I think you’re doing a great job. I don’t think anyone else can care for Nunu as well as you are. You are as lucky to have Nunu, as Nunu is to have you.
 

shawngt2

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Well, I have been known to be a bit of a perfectionist myself lol. Honestly it took 5 months to find someone willing and able to source the material and build that enclosure. It was a terribly frustrating process, and I went through 3 different enclosure designs. As I came to realize that nobody wanted to help me, my design became more and more simple. All of that time gave me nothing to do but dream about what I wanted to do on the inside of the enclosure once I finally did have it. I did not see your video but the enclosure in your picture looks really cool! It’s a great place for your little Nunu to start out. I think us tortoise folks are a special breed of people who care deeply and have good attention to detail. I think you’re doing a great job. I don’t think anyone else can care for Nunu as well as you are. You are as lucky to have Nunu, as Nunu is to have you.
Awesome. I am actually of a design background with SolidWorks experience. I could model and draft up anything I can think of. Didn't really think about doing that with NuNu's future enclosure, but that could be an awesome design project. What I am really curious about is your original designs. I'm super impressed that you came up with that table and the attention to detail with landscape is bar none. What was it that you originally wanted but couldn't find someone to do? Have you heard of Cornel's World? They are masters at custom enclosures and can do anything you can think of. They do some really high end enclosures that end up on TV regularly.

Krista, Glad you wrote today. As a fellow Canadian, having a tortoise indoors nearly full time, you have fantastic scute growth as I have seen on your little guy/girl, you are doing something right!

During the search of a tortoise on Kijiji though, I would say over 98% of the tortoise's for sale have obvious signs of improper conditions and/or diet...I have often though of opening a reptile shop, but I would be COMPLETELY different from the regular out there just trying to sell your products. It's a real shame....

P.S. I joined Tortoise Forum almost 13 years ago! I had a Cherry Head Tortoise. Redfoot_NERD and I had phone calls back in the day. Also with terryo. I had my Cherry Head for almost a year and then took an assignment overseas and had to sell him. Redfoot NERD was one of the original proprietors of MOIST environments and my guy Bowser had perfect growth during his time with me. How do you tag other uses in threads? Would love to speak with him again. Joining 13 years ago and having only 70 messages??? LOLOL I went Hermann's this time due to max size for obvious reasons, otherwise, I think they are the most beautiful tortoises other than Sulcata's and that I can definitely not have for the time being.
 
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Krista S

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Awesome. I am actually of a design background with SolidWorks experience. I could model and draft up anything I can think of. Didn't really think about doing that with NuNu's future enclosure, but that could be an awesome design project. What I am really curious about is your original designs. I'm super impressed that you came up with that table and the attention to detail with landscape is bar none. What was it that you originally wanted but couldn't find someone to do? Have you heard of Cornel's World? They are masters at custom enclosures and can do anything you can think of. They do some really high end enclosures that end up on TV regularly.

Krista, Glad you wrote today. As a fellow Canadian, having a tortoise indoors nearly full time, you have fantastic scute growth as I have seen on your little guy/girl, you are doing something right!

During the search of a tortoise on Kijiji though, I would say over 98% of the tortoise's for sale have obvious signs of improper conditions and/or diet...I have often though of opening a reptile shop, but I would be COMPLETELY different from the regular out there just trying to sell your products. It's a real shame....

P.S. I joined Tortoise Forum almost 13 years ago! I had a Cherry Head Tortoise. Redfoot_NERD and I had phone calls back in the day. Also with terryo. I had my Cherry Head for almost a year and then took an assignment overseas and had to sell him. Redfoot NERD was one of the original proprietors of MOIST environments and my guy Bowser had perfect growth during his time with me. How do you tag other uses in threads? Would love to speak with him again. Joining 13 years ago and having only 70 messages??? LOLOL I went Hermann's this time due to max size for obvious reasons, otherwise, I think they are the most beautiful tortoises other than Sulcata's and that I can definitely not have for the time being.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am aware of Cornel’s but there was too many road blocks with Covid, such as a VERY long wait time and the shipping was really high. When I looked into them, it was at the start of my journey when I didn’t realize the challenge that was ahead. The main design I initially had was addressing the size constraint I have to deal with for what would fit up my stairs when fully assembled. The largest assembled enclosure that would fit around the tight corner to get to the 2nd floor is 4ft x 4ft with 20” high walls. So the initial plan was to have 2 separate enclosures built, each would be 4ft x 4ft and they’d sit side by side. The plan was to have an 18” x 14” ”door” centred on the “inside” walls that would join the 2 enclosures. The “doors” would be on piano hinges and open into their respective enclosures. There would be 3” above and below the hinged door, so they would be under the substrate but would act as a ramp for my tortoise to get to the other side of the enclosure. My thinking was that he would be so small when the enclosure was built that I would initially only use 1 of the 4x4 enclosures and when he got bigger, I’d open up the access to the 2nd enclosure. I thought it would be really interesting for him to want to explore both sides...but anyone I talked to about this plan, even with nice drawings, just looked at me sideways. So eventually I had to switch gears by simplifying it and find someone that would building it, then take it apart and come to my house and put it back together in Dozer’s room in a way that could be taken apart again if I choose to move. As it turned out, Dozer more than doubled in size from the time I started the new enclosure journey, to the time I finally got the finished product in my house. The whole time I kept telling myself that everything happens for a reason. I’m happy with the simplified version. When I think of the initial design now, it does seem a little crazy and it would have cost even more. What I ended up with was a little more than $1000 and had I gone with the initial design...IF I could have found someone willing to do it, it would have been more around $1800. As you probably guessed from my original enclosure design, I have absolutely no design background 😂. With you having a design background I’m so excited to see what you come up with! Whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing and I have no doubt that it will make my enclosure feel slightly insufficient! lol

I hear you with what you said about the kijiji tortoise ads. I had to stop looking because it just breaks my heart and enrages me to see the conditions these tortoises are living in and how bad they look. I want to save them all, but I just don’t have the space.

Anyhow, I’m glad we were able to connect on here today and I really hope you feel more confident about the future NuNu can have in your care.
 

wellington

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I think the kiddie pool would be the way for you to go for some outdoor time. Put some holes in the bottom and throw in some pesticide clean dirt and plant grass and other edible items. Put in a water dish and a hide and you have a nice tortoise enclosure for those warm days. If you have dogs to worry about then do a table with drainage holes and plant stuff in that.
I know you mentioned something about lizards and snakes. My lizards always got to go outside too during summer and so did my bird. If there's a will, there is a way.
 
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hermantort

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I guess I am one of those people that may have purchased a Hermann's without researching in full. I have EVERYTHING setup per Tom's care sheet. Enclosed, substrate, UVB, Humidity, lighting, temperatures, etc. But, I may not be able to provide outdoor pen in the summer. Does anyone have luck keeping their tortoises healthy year round indoors? I realize it is likely more work because you have to pick weeds daily vs letting them graze naturally and get natural sunlight. Ugh...Looking for some hope or else I am too much a perfectionist to let this tortoise live in bad conditions under my watch...
my tortoise lives indoor all year bc i live in ohio where during the summer it’s not consistently warm enough for him to live outside. i do take him outside whenever it is warm enough so he can get out and graze and get some exercise, so i do recommend doing that whenever it’s warm enough. as long as your indoor enclosure is set up correctly, you should have no issue with yours being inside all year :) my tortoise’s vet said he’s extremely healthy so it is possible!
 

shawngt2

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Thank you so much for your kind words. I am aware of Cornel’s but there was too many road blocks with Covid, such as a VERY long wait time and the shipping was really high. When I looked into them, it was at the start of my journey when I didn’t realize the challenge that was ahead. The main design I initially had was addressing the size constraint I have to deal with for what would fit up my stairs when fully assembled. The largest assembled enclosure that would fit around the tight corner to get to the 2nd floor is 4ft x 4ft with 20” high walls. So the initial plan was to have 2 separate enclosures built, each would be 4ft x 4ft and they’d sit side by side. The plan was to have an 18” x 14” ”door” centred on the “inside” walls that would join the 2 enclosures. The “doors” would be on piano hinges and open into their respective enclosures. There would be 3” above and below the hinged door, so they would be under the substrate but would act as a ramp for my tortoise to get to the other side of the enclosure. My thinking was that he would be so small when the enclosure was built that I would initially only use 1 of the 4x4 enclosures and when he got bigger, I’d open up the access to the 2nd enclosure. I thought it would be really interesting for him to want to explore both sides...but anyone I talked to about this plan, even with nice drawings, just looked at me sideways. So eventually I had to switch gears by simplifying it and find someone that would building it, then take it apart and come to my house and put it back together in Dozer’s room in a way that could be taken apart again if I choose to move. As it turned out, Dozer more than doubled in size from the time I started the new enclosure journey, to the time I finally got the finished product in my house. The whole time I kept telling myself that everything happens for a reason. I’m happy with the simplified version. When I think of the initial design now, it does seem a little crazy and it would have cost even more. What I ended up with was a little more than $1000 and had I gone with the initial design...IF I could have found someone willing to do it, it would have been more around $1800. As you probably guessed from my original enclosure design, I have absolutely no design background 😂. With you having a design background I’m so excited to see what you come up with! Whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing and I have no doubt that it will make my enclosure feel slightly insufficient! lol

I hear you with what you said about the kijiji tortoise ads. I had to stop looking because it just breaks my heart and enrages me to see the conditions these tortoises are living in and how bad they look. I want to save them all, but I just don’t have the space.

Anyhow, I’m glad we were able to connect on here today and I really hope you feel more confident about the future NuNu can have in your care.
Wow, quite the ideal you went through. I likely won't be designing anything and a little lazy that way. What I was thinking was to get Cornel's make a large flat pack for me. NuNu is currently in a 4'x2'x2' PVC that Cornel's build for my Hog Island Boa. When I got NuNu I had to transfer him to that enclosure and now my boa is living in a Tupperware. lol. Don't think he cares as he doesn't do to much but hide most of the day. Once I get NuNu's more permanent enclosure towards the end of the summer, my boa will go back into the 4x2. I know that Cornel's make a 6'x3'x18" flat pack inclosure that comes disassembled and you build with the nice glass sliding doors. I will soon be speaking with him for some ideas, but yes the shipping is expensive but luckily he has pallets of orders that come to Toronto and I can hitch a ride :)

I think most Tortoises who had dedicated owners who frequent Tortoise Forum are exceptionally lucky! Other than living in the wild, but then they have to deal with being picked off by birds...
 
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