Inherited a 4 year old redfoot with a poor enclosure, need heating advice

NakkiNakk

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Hey there! So I just inherited a 4 year old redfoot tortoise and received the enclosure with it. I am doing what I can with what I got but I was not very prepared to take him on and I'm trying to do some research and fix his enclosure. I live in the pacific northwest so keeping him outdoors is not an option for a majority of the year, and I know lighting and heating are very important.

Currently he is residing in a 40x24 inch Aivituvin wooden tortoise house on repticarpet. I will be upgrading him to something else in the future but for now I am working with it because it's a decent size for him. The issue is that I have no UVB currently. Temporarily, his only light and heat is a ZooMed nocturnal infared heat lamp which is definitely not putting out enough heat.

I have ordered an Arcadia ProT5 12% 24 inch bulb and hood kit for his UVB but as far as his heating goes I keep getting overwhelmed by all the options and conflicting information.

If someone could answer the following questions I would appreciate it:
  1. What kind of heating is best for this kind of enclosure and this species? I keep reading that ceramic heat emitters are good, but also some sources say they are bad.
  2. Is an Arcadia halogen heat lamp okay to use?
  3. Will that be enough for the ambient temps to get up to what they should be or is it just good for basking?
  4. Also, I don't know how to keep the heat going overnight. Do I leave the heating on even if it's emitting light too?

I have the rest of his needs pretty much covered, it's just the heating/lighting situation that I have to figure out now. Thank you for the help!

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KarenSoCal

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Hi, and welcome to the forum!

I don't keep redfoot, but I've learned some about them here on the forum. Here is our redfoot care sheet. It will help with some of your questions. I'll also tag a couple redfoot keepers for you.


@ZEROPILOT
@Toddrickfl1

In the meantime, for your 4 questions:
1). CHE's are excellent to increase temp during the day or night. They must be screwed into a ceramic socket, and need a thermostat to control it.

2)No! Never use halogen over a tortoise.

3)Redfoot live in the tropical rainforests under the tree canopy. They get filtered light through the trees, so don't bask. They like dim light, not bright, and lots of cover overhead.

4)See #1. The thermostat will control the CHE(s). Be sure to get a thermostat with 2 sockets. If you need 2 CHE's, they can both go on the same t'stat. It needs to be good for 1000 watts.

Come back with questions, and in the morning the east coast folks will be up and respond.
 

TheTattooedTortoise

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Have a read of the above care sheet for now, there is lots of info available there and I'm sure some experienced RF keepers will be along shortly to help you out.
As far as heat bulb, I'm using the Arcadia solar basking floodlight bulb. 100w. It's perfect for my setup but depending on enclosure type/size/location in your house it may differ for you.
There are so many options and conflicting opinions it can be overwhelming.
'Basking Spot bulbs' can be too intense and don't offer a wide spread of heat, Where as flood type bulbs offer a wider spread ambient heat.
I haven't used ceramic heat emitters so can comment on those.

The main aspects to consider are-
1- 'Hot' spot/basking area temp.
2- 'warm side of enclosure' temp.
3- 'cool side of enclosure' temp
4- 'night time' temps
5- HUMIDITY

your red foot looks dry and has signs of pyramiding so something along the way (almost certainly humidity) has been lacking in his care so far.

Defo worth having a good read and asking lots of questions so you can get yourself dialled in and provide a great environment for your tort.
 

NakkiNakk

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Thank you for the information! I have ordered a couple of CHEs to get me started and I will see what I can get the temperatures to on the warm/cool sides once my digital gauges arrive. I already have a rheostat dimmer but it's probably going to take some tweaking.

Cypress mulch and a nice bit of bioactive substrate for starters should help too. The humidity I know has been an issue. I'm getting rid of this nasty repti-carpet as soon as I can. I've got some sphagnum moss soaking for him as well so hopefully that should help. Do you think the pyramiding will be particularly problematic? I have a feeling a part of it may have been diet as well. She was feeding him a pet store brand pellet food with bananas often and not much variety in leafy greens. I don't think he ever got calcium either along with no UVB.

Also, he is about 6 inches long at this point and 4 years old. Safe to say he might be a she or do you think I'll have to wait longer to determine the sex? I'm not seeing any concavity on the plastron or peanut shape on the carapace.
 

KarenSoCal

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Thank you for the information! I have ordered a couple of CHEs to get me started and I will see what I can get the temperatures to on the warm/cool sides once my digital gauges arrive. I already have a rheostat dimmer but it's probably going to take some tweaking.

Cypress mulch and a nice bit of bioactive substrate for starters should help too. The humidity I know has been an issue. I'm getting rid of this nasty repti-carpet as soon as I can. I've got some sphagnum moss soaking for him as well so hopefully that should help. Do you think the pyramiding will be particularly problematic? I have a feeling a part of it may have been diet as well. She was feeding him a pet store brand pellet food with bananas often and not much variety in leafy greens. I don't think he ever got calcium either along with no UVB.

Also, he is about 6 inches long at this point and 4 years old. Safe to say he might be a she or do you think I'll have to wait longer to determine the sex? I'm not seeing any concavity on the plastron or peanut shape on the carapace.
Is the enclosure he's in open topped or does it have a solid top? The humidity will be nearly impossible to maintain in an open topped space.

The pyramiding is caused by too dry conditions...diet did not cause it.

The lack of UVB can cause MBD (metabolic bone disease). Does he have any difficulty walking? If not, he's probably OK on that issue.

Sphagnum moss is not a good idea. Many torts try to eat it, and it is an impaction risk.

I'm not sure when it's possible to tell the gender of redfoot. If you'll post a pic of his anal area from underneath him, someone on here should be able to take a guess.

It would be helpful if you would post pics of his enclosure, the lights you're using, etc. And some more of him. We can offer ideas if any improvements can be made. You already know the enclosure is much too small for him. He needs space to walk in order to digest his food.
 
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