Lighting- So much conflicting info!!

SulcataMommaPaige

New Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Gahanna Ohio
Hello all!

New sulcata momma here (obviously), I have been doing as much as I can to make sure our new baby Pumpkin has everything she (🤞) needs to be healthy and happy. I've worked out her diet, routine, substrate, and gotten her an enclosure that is entirely too big for her now but hopefully will last a good while!
Anyway... to the point. I attached photos of the enclosure I got, as well as a photo of Pumpkin for size reference. I haven't taken a photo of her in the enclosure yet, sorry! As far as the wire top on one side, I plan to get some plexiglass for the outside corners to assist with keeping the moisture in, depending on how the light situation goes. Also the substrate does a good job with the moisture.
Also attaching a photo of a ceramic light fixture im picking up tomorrow that will hold the 50W CHE that I've been using as of late. Question is, what kind of 100W UVA/B bulb should I put on the other half of the fixture? I've read that Mercury bulbs are no longer recommended, but also that people have used them for "years" and with healthy everything else their tort has been perfectly fine. I've also read that the long bulbs are best, however I do want to utilize the fixture I'm getting tomorrow as well. So what bulb for that and then if I were to get a long bulb, am I able to attach it to the top edge of the inside of the enclosure? Per the arcadia website the t5 and t8 can be 10" above and it would be about that, so given her size would that be okay for now? Or should I zip tie it to the top of the wire door?

Sorry... I know that is a lot, but I swear I stress more over this tortoise baby than I did over my whole *** human one! Any links, etc. to 100w bulbs or any other lights would be great!
 

Attachments

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
22,863
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
Don't use an MVB.
Get yourself a strip florescent T5HO UVB
A 10.0 or a 12% from Arcadia or Reptisun.
They come in several different lengths to suit your enclosure.
$50 to $60ish.
Reptisun is less expensive. But tests here on the forum indicate that Arcadia might be superior as far as UVB broadcasting and the duration of the usefulness of the tubes.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
22,863
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
I'm sorry.
I'm having issues reading right now.
Yes an Arcadia T8 could work at closer range. But if you get a T5 initially, you can use that for many years in many different enclosures as your tort grows.
The T8s are "yesterdays" uvb.
The T5 are more advanced. And better at transmission. Especially through a screen top and at a distance.
I've seen T8 only make UVB for 4". If you buy one, you'll probably wish you'd bought a T5 immediately.
 
Last edited:

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
38,097
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
I can verify that the mercury bulbs are not the ones too use. Yes, I used them. They were the ones to use at the time I joined. Used closed chamber with my leopards I hatched and still got pyramiding. Unfortunately it was discovered too late for me how bad they can be. Now, some will and have had good luck with them. Leopards are easier to pyramid then some other species. However, why use them hen we know they are not good for some, they are very touchy, don't last real long and with your enclosure it would have to be too close to your pumpkin and would be bad on its shell. Btw you do need a closed chamber which means the wire needs to go and plexi glass on the whole top.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
51,276
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hello all!

New sulcata momma here (obviously), I have been doing as much as I can to make sure our new baby Pumpkin has everything she (🤞) needs to be healthy and happy. I've worked out her diet, routine, substrate, and gotten her an enclosure that is entirely too big for her now but hopefully will last a good while!
Anyway... to the point. I attached photos of the enclosure I got, as well as a photo of Pumpkin for size reference. I haven't taken a photo of her in the enclosure yet, sorry! As far as the wire top on one side, I plan to get some plexiglass for the outside corners to assist with keeping the moisture in, depending on how the light situation goes. Also the substrate does a good job with the moisture.
Also attaching a photo of a ceramic light fixture im picking up tomorrow that will hold the 50W CHE that I've been using as of late. Question is, what kind of 100W UVA/B bulb should I put on the other half of the fixture? I've read that Mercury bulbs are no longer recommended, but also that people have used them for "years" and with healthy everything else their tort has been perfectly fine. I've also read that the long bulbs are best, however I do want to utilize the fixture I'm getting tomorrow as well. So what bulb for that and then if I were to get a long bulb, am I able to attach it to the top edge of the inside of the enclosure? Per the arcadia website the t5 and t8 can be 10" above and it would be about that, so given her size would that be okay for now? Or should I zip tie it to the top of the wire door?

Sorry... I know that is a lot, but I swear I stress more over this tortoise baby than I did over my whole *** human one! Any links, etc. to 100w bulbs or any other lights would be great!
Hello and welcome. I'm sorry to tell you that most of the care info you find for this species is wrong and will lead to problems. Its a confusing mess out there. Your baby is already starting to pyramid from being in the wrong conditions. Covering the top of that enclosure will help, but not solve the problem.

Give this a read, and then feel free to ask lots of questions:
 

Mikayla777

New Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2019
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Texas
Hello all!

New sulcata momma here (obviously), I have been doing as much as I can to make sure our new baby Pumpkin has everything she (🤞) needs to be healthy and happy. I've worked out her diet, routine, substrate, and gotten her an enclosure that is entirely too big for her now but hopefully will last a good while!
Anyway... to the point. I attached photos of the enclosure I got, as well as a photo of Pumpkin for size reference. I haven't taken a photo of her in the enclosure yet, sorry! As far as the wire top on one side, I plan to get some plexiglass for the outside corners to assist with keeping the moisture in, depending on how the light situation goes. Also the substrate does a good job with the moisture.
Also attaching a photo of a ceramic light fixture im picking up tomorrow that will hold the 50W CHE that I've been using as of late. Question is, what kind of 100W UVA/B bulb should I put on the other half of the fixture? I've read that Mercury bulbs are no longer recommended, but also that people have used them for "years" and with healthy everything else their tort has been perfectly fine. I've also read that the long bulbs are best, however I do want to utilize the fixture I'm getting tomorrow as well. So what bulb for that and then if I were to get a long bulb, am I able to attach it to the top edge of the inside of the enclosure? Per the arcadia website the t5 and t8 can be 10" above and it would be about that, so given her size would that be okay for now? Or should I zip tie it to the top of the wire door?

Sorry... I know that is a lot, but I swear I stress more over this tortoise baby than I did over my whole *** human one! Any links, etc. to 100w bulbs or any other lights would be great!
All I know is stay away from those coil uvb bulbs! Almost killed my baby sulcata!
 

SulcataMommaPaige

New Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Gahanna Ohio
Hello all!

New sulcata momma here (obviously), I have been doing as much as I can to make sure our new baby Pumpkin has everything she (🤞) needs to be healthy and happy. I've worked out her diet, routine, substrate, and gotten her an enclosure that is entirely too big for her now but hopefully will last a good while!
Anyway... to the point. I attached photos of the enclosure I got, as well as a photo of Pumpkin for size reference. I haven't taken a photo of her in the enclosure yet, sorry! As far as the wire top on one side, I plan to get some plexiglass for the outside corners to assist with keeping the moisture in, depending on how the light situation goes. Also the substrate does a good job with the moisture.
Also attaching a photo of a ceramic light fixture im picking up tomorrow that will hold the 50W CHE that I've been using as of late. Question is, what kind of 100W UVA/B bulb should I put on the other half of the fixture? I've read that Mercury bulbs are no longer recommended, but also that people have used them for "years" and with healthy everything else their tort has been perfectly fine. I've also read that the long bulbs are best, however I do want to utilize the fixture I'm getting tomorrow as well. So what bulb for that and then if I were to get a long bulb, am I able to attach it to the top edge of the inside of the enclosure? Per the arcadia website the t5 and t8 can be 10" above and it would be about that, so given her size would that be okay for now? Or should I zip tie it to the top of the wire door?

Sorry... I know that is a lot, but I swear I stress more over this tortoise baby than I did over my whole *** human one! Any links, etc. to 100w bulbs or any other lights would be great!
I can verify that the mercury bulbs are not the ones too use. Yes, I used them. They were the ones to use at the time I joined. Used closed chamber with my leopards I hatched and still got pyramiding. Unfortunately it was discovered too late for me how bad they can be. Now, some will and have had good luck with them. Leopards are easier to pyramid then some other species. However, why use them hen we know they are not good for some, they are very touchy, don't last real long and with your enclosure it would have to be too close to your pumpkin and would be bad on its shell. Btw you do need a closed chamber which means the wire needs to go and plexi glass on the whole top.
Okay, if I were to cover the whole chamber, how would the lighting / heating work? And air circulation? The heat won't be able to go through the plexiglass, so it would have to be inside of it, right? So then the other poster saying the T8 could be at closer range but the T5 would be best at further /above, what do I do with that?
 

SulcataMommaPaige

New Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Gahanna Ohio
Hello and welcome. I'm sorry to tell you that most of the care info you find for this species is wrong and will lead to problems. Its a confusing mess out there. Your baby is already starting to pyramid from being in the wrong conditions. Covering the top of that enclosure will help, but not solve the problem.

Give this a read, and then feel free to ask lots of questions:
I have read that, multiple times, and done everything I can from it. That photo is from right after my daughter and best friend surprisingly brought her home from the local 'Exotic Reptile' store. The video consult with the vet said overall she looks okay but needs better care so I've been doing everything I can as quickly as I can to get it all together.

Which is why I am now asking these questions. That article/thread on care is very informative, it does feel very black and white- either do this or don't have a tortoise. I didn't plan to have her, but now that I do I love her and I want the best, so getting specific answers or help to my specific situation is most helpful to me.
She is small now and I live in Ohio so I'm also looking forward on how ill have her outside eventually with this cold, unpredictable weather.
 

SulcataMommaPaige

New Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Gahanna Ohio
Oh and if you can return that fixture you should. Better to have individual not a double.
I was just about to go pick it up, so I guess I won't do that. So, I guess I'll keep using the one I have, or get an additional one as well? The type of enclosure I have allows me to hang a light from the top and I don't know when one i should put there?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
51,276
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Okay, if I were to cover the whole chamber, how would the lighting / heating work? And air circulation? The heat won't be able to go through the plexiglass, so it would have to be inside of it, right? So then the other poster saying the T8 could be at closer range but the T5 would be best at further /above, what do I do with that?
This is a hard pill for some people to swallow. You learned the wrong stuff and got the wrong enclosure. Its not just you. This happens to almost everyone. Happened to me years ago, and I did it wrong for nearly 20 years following the same wrong advice you found, before you found us. After almost 20 years of doing it wrong, I've spent the last 12 years doing it right and figuring out the best ways to do it even better. I've learned from my own experiments, observing the trials and tribulations of other keepers, and many many conversations with other tortoise keepers from all over the world.

You are lucky. You don't have to go through all that. You can skip 30 years of learning the hard way, and just go to the end of the story and see what works.

Your current enclosure isn't going to work. Those enclosures and other similar ones are of a poor design and they do not work for any tortoise species of any size or age. They are too open, low sided, and the wood can't stand up to the moisture that babies need. They are too small for an adult of any species that could tolerate the drier conditions better. If you want your baby to thrive, be healthy and grow smoothly, you need to simulate the natural conditions that occur where they come from. Babies in the wild hatch at the start of the rainy, wet, hot, humid, monsoon season in the African grasslands and forest edges. Ever been to Atlanta, New Orleans or Miami in summer? According to my friend from Senegal who studies them in the wild, Florida summer heat and humidity is a mild day in sulcata land. You can't do this in an open topped container that allows heat and humidity to simply rise up and out into the room.

In a closed chamber all the lights are inside. This means you need much lower wattage bulbs, and your ambient heat source which is controlled by a thermostat will hardly ever need to run because all the heat you are generating is contained and used instead of wasted. Closed chambers are not air tight. There is plenty of air movement and most of them have vents too.

I've never had good results from trying to close in the top or modify an open topped container. Its a series of compromises and having the lights outside creates a chimney effect. The care sheet I linked for you explains all of this and how to do it. Your questions are welcome.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
38,097
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Seeing you already have the enclosure and probably can't return it, this is what I would do.
I would build up the open area on top with 2x6 boards and put either plexi glass or even better wood on top. This will give you more distance to hang the heat and light from. You could attach a strip extension cord to the underside of the now new top and only one hole would be needed to run the cord through. You can run the cord thru the side of enclosure or top. This is where a wood top would he better then plexi. Hooks and zip ties will help here for hanging lights and keeping cords up out of the way. You can either glue the new top onto the old top or leave it too lift off when you need to get into the enclosure. You can also put a door in part of the new top if you are handy enough to do that. Wouldn't be too hard but hard to try and explain. Now you have a pretty good enclosed chamber enclosure.
I hope that helps with an idea. Sorry if it's not explained well.
One other thing you can do to make the enclosure bigger is cut a hole in the one end opposite hide. Then build a rectangle enclosed enclosure to add onto that area. Cut a hole in the one end to match up with the hole you cut in the old enclosure. Hand heat/lights the same way and run the cord thru the upper part of the holes and plug into strip.
 

SulcataMommaPaige

New Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Gahanna Ohio
This is a hard pill for some people to swallow. You learned the wrong stuff and got the wrong enclosure. Its not just you. This happens to almost everyone. Happened to me years ago, and I did it wrong for nearly 20 years following the same wrong advice you found, before you found us. After almost 20 years of doing it wrong, I've spent the last 12 years doing it right and figuring out the best ways to do it even better. I've learned from my own experiments, observing the trials and tribulations of other keepers, and many many conversations with other tortoise keepers from all over the world.

You are lucky. You don't have to go through all that. You can skip 30 years of learning the hard way, and just go to the end of the story and see what works.

Your current enclosure isn't going to work. Those enclosures and other similar ones are of a poor design and they do not work for any tortoise species of any size or age. They are too open, low sided, and the wood can't stand up to the moisture that babies need. They are too small for an adult of any species that could tolerate the drier conditions better. If you want your baby to thrive, be healthy and grow smoothly, you need to simulate the natural conditions that occur where they come from. Babies in the wild hatch at the start of the rainy, wet, hot, humid, monsoon season in the African grasslands and forest edges. Ever been to Atlanta, New Orleans or Miami in summer? According to my friend from Senegal who studies them in the wild, Florida summer heat and humidity is a mild day in sulcata land. You can't do this in an open topped container that allows heat and humidity to simply rise up and out into the room.

In a closed chamber all the lights are inside. This means you need much lower wattage bulbs, and your ambient heat source which is controlled by a thermostat will hardly ever need to run because all the heat you are generating is contained and used instead of wasted. Closed chambers are not air tight. There is plenty of air movement and most of them have vents too.

I've never had good results from trying to close in the top or modify an open topped container. Its a series of compromises and having the lights outside creates a chimney effect. The care sheet I linked for you explains all of this and how to do it. Your questions are welcome.
So from your thread, the only enclosure for them at this stage is one that is made by us? Fully enclosed, not to be interacted with? What are the full plans for such a thing? Where does the air flow come from?
There aren't any that can be purchased?

The whole "if you don't have room" or can't do xyz "get a different pet" is really difficult for me to read. I did not chose nor was I particularly enthused to have her at first, but if we wouldn't have ended up with her, someone else would have. Someone else who might not have cared nearly as much or could have hurt her. When people come here to ask questions and they are way in over their heads, what do you suggest they do? What is the alternative? There are so many tortoises (sulcatas specifically) that are in need of rescue, the pet stores don't even care for them properly.
 

SulcataMommaPaige

New Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Gahanna Ohio
Seeing you already have the enclosure and probably can't return it, this is what I would do.
I would build up the open area on top with 2x6 boards and put either plexi glass or even better wood on top. This will give you more distance to hang the heat and light from. You could attach a strip extension cord to the underside of the now new top and only one hole would be needed to run the cord through. You can run the cord thru the side of enclosure or top. This is where a wood top would he better then plexi. Hooks and zip ties will help here for hanging lights and keeping cords up out of the way. You can either glue the new top onto the old top or leave it too lift off when you need to get into the enclosure. You can also put a door in part of the new top if you are handy enough to do that. Wouldn't be too hard but hard to try and explain. Now you have a pretty good enclosed chamber enclosure.
I hope that helps with an idea. Sorry if it's not explained well.
One other thing you can do to make the enclosure bigger is cut a hole in the one end opposite hide. Then build a rectangle enclosed enclosure to add onto that area. Cut a hole in the one end to match up with the hole you cut in the old enclosure. Hand heat/lights the same way and run the cord thru the upper part of the holes and plug into strip.
I am actually incredibly handy, before getting this enclosure I actually designed one to build, so this could be helpful too! I appreciate your help!
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
38,097
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
So from your thread, the only enclosure for them at this stage is one that is made by us? Fully enclosed, not to be interacted with? What are the full plans for such a thing? Where does the air flow come from?
There aren't any that can be purchased?

The whole "if you don't have room" or can't do xyz "get a different pet" is really difficult for me to read. I did not chose nor was I particularly enthused to have her at first, but if we wouldn't have ended up with her, someone else would have. Someone else who might not have cared nearly as much or could have hurt her. When people come here to ask questions and they are way in over their heads, what do you suggest they do? What is the alternative? There are so many tortoises (sulcatas specifically) that are in need of rescue, the pet stores don't even care for them properly.
Don't take it personally. We are here to help and you are one of the lucky ones that found us, is willing to do what you can and to learn. There are so many that come here, ask for help and then disputes everything we try to say. Hang in there. The hardest part is now, getting the enclosure right. Once that is done, then it's pretty easy.
There is and can be interaction. Daily your tort needs a warm water soak, fresh food, water and a spot cleaning done. That gives lots of air exchange and interaction. Air is also from the fact the enclosure is not air tight. Same as a house is not air tight.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
38,097
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
I am actually incredibly handy, before getting this enclosure I actually designed one to build, so this could be helpful too! I appreciate your help!
That's great and will make it much easier for you.
Just hang in there, so many of us have gone thru this. It can get confusing, then something clicks and you totally understand it and then puff, you're totally confused again or Tom or another member discover another bad thing we are doing and fortunately they share it with us and we have to change things again. It's all great stuff that we are fortunate to have members that care enough to do experiments and to share it all with us.
 

SulcataMommaPaige

New Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
13
Location (City and/or State)
Gahanna Ohio
Don't take it personally. We are here to help and you are one of the lucky ones that found us, is willing to do what you can and to learn. There are so many that come here, ask for help and then disputes everything we try to say. Hang in there. The hardest part is now, getting the enclosure right. Once that is done, then it's pretty easy.
There is and can be interaction. Daily your tort needs a warm water soak, fresh food, water and a spot cleaning done. That gives lots of air exchange and interaction. Air is also from the fact the enclosure is not air tight. Same as a house is not air tight.
I try not to personalize, it truly is just a lot of information to take in. I'm also a full time single mother and a social worker for those in recovery for mental health and addiction. So I put in a lot of hours at work then come home and do everything for my kid and Pumpkin, then spend hours researching whats best for her because I've seen what happens to the ones that aren't cared for properly. However I also see the ones on some of the FB pages I'm in that are thriving in environments dissimilar than whats recommended here, or ones that are rescued and recovering but are much older.

It's all very overwhelming, you know, plus COVID, plus our teachers were just on strike, and and and.

I have been adjusting and learning as I go.
With the larger enclosure she has a cooler side with moss (she doesn't attempt to eat, just lay on) and her favorite hide. She has the warm side with the UVB/basking as well as a CHE, grass, rocks in the corner because she likes to "ninja" around as my daughter says, another hide, an aloe plant, water and her food bowl.
She soaks every day (minus 2 days we forgot or it was late) even though she hates it.
She has grass and hay in her enclosure at all times, however she never touches the hay. (We've tried two different kinds thus far)
I supplement in other greens to make sure she eats, and she does eat, a lot.
Her urates were rough when we first got her but they seem normal now, along with her bowel movements.
She hasn't been outside but once because, Ohio.
I even have a camera on her enclosure just so I can check in on her throughout the day 🤦🏼‍♀️
 
Last edited:
Top