Lighting a plastic storage enclosure and cleaning instructions

Schado

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May 31, 2021
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Arizona
Can you please tell me how I can light up my tortoise's plastic storage container with the UVA and UVB lights required? and please send photos if you can. How often will I need to clean my tortoise's enclosure if I use a top soil safe for him? And I am getting a boy within the next 2 years I am going to save up for my new tortoise. I thought I should get a large plastic storage bin for him because I heard it is not easy to clean the wood. This is my first tortoise and I am really worried he might die if the cage is not properly cleaned. His name will be Windy June and I am studying about the Russian tortoise, everyday. I am also cleaning my house but to be sure not to over chemicalize it. I have a special room for him with lots of privacy. but I will need to know how I can light up his plastic storage enclosure and how often it should be cleaned.
 

KarenSoCal

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Hello, and welcome to the forum!

First, if you are getting a hatchling to raise, you could use a storage bin for a while, but he would quickly grow out of it. All tortoises need lots of space to walk and explore, and walking is needed in order for them to digest their food.

If you get an adult, a plastic bin won't work at all. He needs an area of at least 8ft x 4ft. Plus, living in AZ, you would need to build an outdoor enclosure for him, the bigger the better.

Back to your questions about the bin. You cut a hole in the plastic lid of the bin, and line the edges of the hole with aluminum foil. Then your basking bulb goes into a dome holder, and it sits over the hole so the light and heat shine down into the bin. The UVB light is similar to a fluorescent tube. That can be screwed to the underneath of the plastic lid. Sorry I don't have any pix of this...I'll see if I can find one.

Soil is not a good substrate. There's no way to know what's in it, it is an impaction risk, and it can irritate the eyes of the tort. You will be making the substrate wet too, so soil turns into a muddy mess rather quickly. You would want to get fine grade orchid bark, coco coir, or cypress mulch. You can also use a combination of them.

For the most part, cleaning the substrate is just spot cleaning any poop you find. If you can keep a good schedule, he will probably poop in his soak water each day. That's good...it's one less you have to find and pick up. Most of us never change all the substrate at once...we spot clean daily. Some members change all of it about every 6 months.

This is the proper way for you to care for a baby Russian. An adult is pretty much the same, but the temps can be lower. The humidity is very important for babies and young adults. As they get older it's not as crucial to keep it as high as 80%.

Read this care sheet. If you follow this, you will be on your way to a happy, healthy Russian. Ask your questions here, and we'll be glad to help. Don't try to get advice from pet stores, other tort owners, most vets, or any internet site but this one. We have the most up-to-date info on torts.
 

Schado

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I decided not to get the storage bin and I have a big cage plan idea for him. Thanks for the clarification of top soil and how to clean his enclosure. I will take good care of my tortoise if I am able to buy one.
 

KarenSoCal

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I decided not to get the storage bin and I have a big cage plan idea for him. Thanks for the clarification of top soil and how to clean his enclosure. I will take good care of my tortoise if I am able to buy one.
I wrote that post last night and forgot to attach the care sheet 🥴 So here it is...


Also, just to make it clear, if you get a hatchling, its 'cage' must be completely closed in, including the top. If it's left open-topped, you will have a very hard time to keep the heat and humidity inside the cage.

If you get an adult, like from Petco or Petsmart, closing in the cage is still a good idea, at least for a while. But it is not necessary.

If you want a hatchling, I would suggest that you get one from one of the breeders here on the forum. A few members breed Russians, and you could be sure that the baby had the very best start in life. If you buy one at Petco or Petsmart, it will be 5-10 years old, and probably taken from the wild.
 

Schado

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May 31, 2021
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Arizona
I will not get a hatchling!! I am looking for a 3-5 year old within the next 2 years of my planning to adopt.
 

Lyn W

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Jul 22, 2014
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Hi and welcome,
It's good you are researching before getting your tort, that will give you time to have his enclosure set up with everything he needs and the right temps etc . That will be much easier for you and the tort.
The Lifetime raised garden bed kits are a good easy option for enclosures. They come in a pack of 2 which can be stacked to make a deep 4 x 4 feet or assembled side by side to make shallower 4 x 8 feet and come with a plastic greenhouse which will help with humidity. In order to get the depth of substrate your tort needs you may be better buying 2 kits. This is how Elohi used them ( you won't need a humidifier) If you search for Lifetime Raised Garden Beds by Elohi you can see her thread.
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Blackdog1714

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Yep grow your plants first in your enclosure and if everything is right boom its overgrown. If everything is wrong well then its better to experiment with plants
 
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