My life friend Cronan arrives soon, any tips for the first few days

Chartis

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Below are some pictures of the enclosure I've been setting up for his (Cronan) long awaited arrival.

Substrate is about 70/30 topsoil and cypress mulch with the mulch layered on top. Can't wait for his arrival this upcoming week, are there any last minute things I should pick up to make his transition easier ?

Planning on acquiring a feeding ball and basking lamp. I currently have a under tank heating mat attached across from the food dish (Testing out soaking some hay in water for when he arrives, but also planning on buying some collard greens, and a little fruit for him the first night). I'm assuming this won't be enough heat or sufficient compared to getting a basking lamp or CHE bulb.

I'll be receiving my Mazuri tortoise food and have purchased some Reptical with D3 also. I'll also be receiving some SpagMoss and Coconut Coir for the enclosure soon too. Are there any obvious things I'm missing to ensure my tortoise is comfortable and remains healthy after arrival ? Also are there any other little things I could add to make his home more entertaining or welcoming ? Was planning on adding some flowers and a turtle block as well as a Wi-Fi camera so I can view him throughout the day.




1623030615078.png I 1623031696696.png
 

method89

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Let's start with the basics. What type of tortoise are you getting? How old?
 

wellington

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Wow a few things not to use. The sphagnum moss is not good. They like to eat it and it can cause impaction and get tangled around limbs and neck and it molds easy.
No under tank heater. They get their heat from above. They won't know to get off the mat specially if there is no heat above it
If you are not getting a redfoot then no fruit.
This enclosure is not very useful as it is not a closed chamber. Find a way to cover the open area. A saw horse type frame over the whole thing with plastic draped over works okay.
What kind of tort is this for and is it a hatchling?
This enclosure size is only big enough for a hatchling.
Also give the tort a warm water soak as soon as it arrives.
 

Chartis

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Hello, I'm getting a baby sulcata hatchling that I ordered from TortoiseSupply. While they don't specify the age the current size estimate is 2 inches give or take some.

Will remove the under tank heater and replace with above basking lamp or CHE.
For covering of the enclosure I was considering having a plexiglass cover cut to slide on top of the wire frame top.
Noted for no fruit, believe I had read that it can help them grow friendly sooner but should be infrequently used, will eliminate it from the jump.

Follow up question/edit: Is there anything the heating pad can be used for that would be helpful, if set to a thermometer could I install it on the side (inside or out) of the enclosure to increase overall heat ?

@wellington
@method89
 

method89

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Tom

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Below are some pictures of the enclosure I've been setting up for his (Cronan) long awaited arrival.

Substrate is about 70/30 topsoil and cypress mulch with the mulch layered on top. Can't wait for his arrival this upcoming week, are there any last minute things I should pick up to make his transition easier ?

Planning on acquiring a feeding ball and basking lamp. I currently have a under tank heating mat attached across from the food dish (Testing out soaking some hay in water for when he arrives, but also planning on buying some collard greens, and a little fruit for him the first night). I'm assuming this won't be enough heat or sufficient compared to getting a basking lamp or CHE bulb.

I'll be receiving my Mazuri tortoise food and have purchased some Reptical with D3 also. I'll also be receiving some SpagMoss and Coconut Coir for the enclosure soon too. Are there any obvious things I'm missing to ensure my tortoise is comfortable and remains healthy after arrival ? Also are there any other little things I could add to make his home more entertaining or welcoming ? Was planning on adding some flowers and a turtle block as well as a Wi-Fi camera so I can view him throughout the day.




View attachment 326681 I View attachment 326686
Okay. Have a seat. This will take a minute.

You've gotten to old wrong care info and done almost everything wrong. I'm glad you came here and posted BEFORE you got the tortoise, and we are going to help you avoid the tragic, awful experience you were about to have. This is not intended to insult you or hurt your feelings in any way. The intention is to help you have a happy, fulfilling, successful tortoise experience. You have found the usual wrong info that almost everyone finds and were about to make all the usual mistakes that almost everyone makes. The difference is, you found us BEFORE the damage was done. Your welcome.

First: Stop the sale. Do NOT have this torotise shipped. You are not ready for it. These things need to be addressed and fixed BEFORE you order and receive a tortoise:
1. No soil. Its made form composted yard waste and there is no way to know what is in that bag.
2. No under tank heaters. This goes against a tortoise's instinct to dig down into the cooler earth when they feel too warm. They will cook themselves.
3. No open topped enclosures. Those tortoise houses are poorly designed and not suitable for any species of tortoise at any life stage. You cannot maintain that correct conditions for a baby sulcata with an open top. You need a closed chamber. A VERY LARGE closed chamber.
4. Get the enclosure, heating and lighting all set up running, tested, checked, and adjusted BEFORE you order a baby. It will take time and mistakes will be made. Adjustments will be needed and equipment ordered. Don't order an animal before you have the habitat set up correctly, tested and running perfectly.
5. What is a feeding ball?
6. Hay is for older larger sulcatas, not babies. I don't start them on hay until they reach around 12 inches.
7. NO fruit for sulcatas. Their GI tracts can't handle all the sugars. The smaller they are the worse this is.
8. Why are you getting a sulcata in NY? Where will you house a large active giant tropical reptile that needs year round warm temps and a giant enclosure? If you say you are moving to a warmer climate soon, then wait until you actually get there.
9. Here is the current and correct care info: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-a-sulcata-leopard-or-star-tortoise.181497/
10. Where are you getting the baby? Almost no one starts babies correctly and most of them die within a few weeks or months as a result. You will be blamed for the death, even if it isn't your fault. Don't buy babies from people who start them dry and/or house them outdoors all day. (Edited after reading post number four above: Tortoise supply sells healthy well started animals. You did that part right. :) )

I know this is a lot to take in. Questions are welcome. We're here to help. We don't flame, troll, insult, belittle, or attack people here. We do our best to help tortoises and the people who love them. There are some commonly made mistakes, and we do our best to help people avoid making them.
 

wellington

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The plexy glass won't work as you would have to hang the heat and lights inside the enclosure and that would make them too close to the sulcata and will burn its shell.
A heat mat is really not safe for a baby to be on at all. You could attach it to the side or ceiling.
No fruit does not make them friendlier faster. It possibly makes them sick or worse.
I think if you got a large plastic tote box or a pop up portable green house, around 30-50 bucks you will have a lot easier time setting up a proper closed chamber. That box/cage you have shouldn't even be sold.
You could save it though and use it as a hide for outside when the tort gets a little bigger. That way it's not a total loss.
 

Chartis

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Joined
Mar 1, 2021
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Okay. Have a seat. This will take a minute.

You've gotten to old wrong care info and done almost everything wrong. I'm glad you came here and posted BEFORE you got the tortoise, and we are going to help you avoid the tragic, awful experience you were about to have. This is not intended to insult you or hurt your feelings in any way. The intention is to help you have a happy, fulfilling, successful tortoise experience. You have found the usual wrong info that almost everyone finds and were about to make all the usual mistakes that almost everyone makes. The difference is, you found us BEFORE the damage was done. Your welcome.

First: Stop the sale. Do NOT have this torotise shipped. You are not ready for it. These things need to be addressed and fixed BEFORE you order and receive a tortoise:
1. No soil. Its made form composted yard waste and there is no way to know what is in that bag.
2. No under tank heaters. This goes against a tortoise's instinct to dig down into the cooler earth when they feel too warm. They will cook themselves.
3. No open topped enclosures. Those tortoise houses are poorly designed and not suitable for any species of tortoise at any life stage. You cannot maintain that correct conditions for a baby sulcata with an open top. You need a closed chamber. A VERY LARGE closed chamber.
4. Get the enclosure, heating and lighting all set up running, tested, checked, and adjusted BEFORE you order a baby. It will take time and mistakes will be made. Adjustments will be needed and equipment ordered. Don't order an animal before you have the habitat set up correctly, tested and running perfectly.
5. What is a feeding ball?
6. Hay is for older larger sulcatas, not babies. I don't start them on hay until they reach around 12 inches.
7. NO fruit for sulcatas. Their GI tracts can't handle all the sugars. The smaller they are the worse this is.
8. Why are you getting a sulcata in NY? Where will you house a large active giant tropical reptile that needs year round warm temps and a giant enclosure? If you say you are moving to a warmer climate soon, then wait until you actually get there.
9. Here is the current and correct care info: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/the-best-way-to-raise-a-sulcata-leopard-or-star-tortoise.181497/
10. Where are you getting the baby? Almost no one starts babies correctly and most of them die within a few weeks or months as a result. You will be blamed for the death, even if it isn't your fault. Don't buy babies from people who start them dry and/or house them outdoors all day. (Edited after reading post number four above: Tortoise supply sells healthy well started animals. You did that part right. :) )

I know this is a lot to take in. Questions are welcome. We're here to help. We don't flame, troll, insult, belittle, or attack people here. We do our best to help tortoises and the people who love them. There are some commonly made mistakes, and we do our best to help people avoid making them.
Hi okay I'd love to find a way to set this up as I was in the mindset that the information was correct and have the tortoise coming in fewer than 2 days and now need to make a complete turn around. When I thought I had been prepared.

I plan on staying in New York for 2 or fewer years before moving to a warmer climate (MD/California/Texas/etc) , time I believed would be fine to house it in such an enclosure. I am also moving back to Maryland within a week after completing school for a month before moving to NY.

Feeding ball: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002DJX3A/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

Under tank heater has been removed and I can remove all the soil and replace with just cypress mulch or orchid bark if that would work ?

I will remove the hay and can purchase or seek out some of the foods mentioned within the linked post. I can also look for a larger container for purchase immediately, are there any immediate solutions such as the plastic covering mentioned above work until I move and can transfer it ? What would be the best course of action in the immediate future ?

I should also include my current temperature/weather. The weather has been in the high 90s in my region for the past month with frequent showers and high humidity, I am not currently located in New York and will be in similar conditions when I return home in a week or so.
@Tom
@wellington
 
Last edited:

wellington

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The feeding ball is not for tortoises, return it or stop the shipping of it.
There are inexpensive portable soft plastic green houses that work good. I will post a pic after this post.
The saw horse type frame works to give more height to hang lights and heat and when covered with a clear shower curtain or you can buy plastic by the yard at fabric stores work but not as well as a true closed chamber or the green house. The outside temps won't affect the tort much now as he will be inside for most of the next 2 or 3 years with short times outside when its warm enough.
As for lights and heat. Get a tube florescent uvb light and a che or two for heat. I like having more then one as it's the only heat for night time and sometimes more then one is needed. Use the che in a large metal dome fixture with a ceramic socket. Home Depot sells them. You can also look for an incandescent flood light for basking area.
 

wellington

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A few pics of a type I have used. Lights can be hung from the frame or I strung rope across the side frames one side to the other and hung lights/heat from the rope.
Some come with floors, some don't. If they dont I set it up on a tarp and taped the tarp to the sides to close off the gap between the two.
 

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Tom

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Hi okay I'd love to find a way to set this up as I was in the mindset that the information was correct and have the tortoise coming in fewer than 2 days and now need to make a complete turn around. When I thought I had been prepared.

I plan on staying in New York for 2 or fewer years before moving to a warmer climate (MD/California/Texas/etc) , time I believed would be fine to house it in such an enclosure. I am also moving back to Maryland within a week after completing school for a month before moving to NY.

Feeding ball: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002DJX3A/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

Under tank heater has been removed and I can remove all the soil and replace with just cypress mulch or orchid bark if that would work ?

I will remove the hay and can purchase or seek out some of the foods mentioned within the linked post. I can also look for a larger container for purchase immediately, are there any immediate solutions such as the plastic covering mentioned above work until I move and can transfer it ? What would be the best course of action in the immediate future ?

I should also include my current temperature/weather. The weather has been in the high 90s in my region for the past month with frequent showers and high humidity, I am not currently located in New York and will be in similar conditions when I return home in a week or so.
@Tom
@wellington
I don't know how to make it happen in two days. I know that if you put a baby in that ZooMed tortoise house it will be too dry and it will pyramid irreversibly. You will have a tough time maintaining the correct temperatures, and it will be impossible to maintain the correct humidity.

In 2 years a well started baby that is raised correctly will easily reach 16 inches and 20+ pounds and be way too big to live inside even in a room sized enclosure. Again, I'd suggest you wait until you get where you are going. Moving a tortoise back and forth across the country is not god for them. They don't like change. They don't like moving.

Cypress mulch is fine. Orchid bark is best. If you can't find it in bulk locally, you can order 24 quart bags of Repti-bark from Chewy.com for about $18. You'll need several.

The weather and humidity in your area has nothing to do with any of this since your baby is going to be living mostly indoors. All this advice is the same for hatchlings and small babies whether you live in Northern Canada or the Philippines. Your climate doesn't matter until they grow a bit and get too big to be indoors.
 

Chartis

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@wellington
@Tom

Just wanted to provide an update. I've been trying to somehow make accommodations and was wondering if this set up will work.

While I was able to find only one portable greenhouse cover within my area stores, it didn't secure snugly or enclose heat well. I instead decided to take the material and enclose the top and seals of the enclosure to trap humidity. I ran this for about 6 hours today after completion and maintained temperatures of 100*F under the basking lamp and humidity of 80-90 throughout the time, with condensation developing on the windows/view panels. Will this be sufficient humidity and heat for the enclosure for the time being ?

I have also purchased some Zoomed Grassland tortoise food and various greens such as Bok choy, arugula, cilantro, spring mix, romaine, etc.

For the lighting I got a dual dome with a CHE (100W) and a Reptisun basking spot lamp (150W) set within a dual hood alongside the Zilla and Reptisun UVB light. Any suggestions for a better way to install/hang the light ?


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https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipNRMZ2j8eKGDI4ZDt2Ip_jgK3dPJmQDDthdn-Ma
https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipNRMZ2j8eKGDI4ZDt2Ip_jgK3dPJmQDDthdn-Ma
 
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wellington

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Return the double dome and get two single large domes.
I can't see the pics so I'm not sure how you have it set up. If I am understanding what you said, you have the greenhouse plastic over the wood box. Or do you have the greenhouse plastic and frame over the wood box?
Basking and humidity sounds good but what is the over all temp and night temp?
 

Tom

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@wellington
@Tom

Just wanted to provide an update. I've been trying to somehow make accommodations and was wondering if this set up will work.

While I was able to find only one portable greenhouse cover within my area stores, it didn't secure snugly or enclose heat well. I instead decided to take the material and enclose the top and seals of the enclosure to trap humidity. I ran this for about 6 hours today after completion and maintained temperatures of 100*F under the basking lamp and humidity of 80-90 throughout the time, with condensation developing on the windows/view panels. Will this be sufficient humidity and heat for the enclosure for the time being ?

I have also purchased some Zoomed Grassland tortoise food and various greens such as Bok choy, arugula, cilantro, spring mix, romaine, etc.

For the lighting I got a dual dome with a CHE (100W) and a Reptisun basking spot lamp (150W) set within a dual hood alongside the Zilla and Reptisun UVB light. Any suggestions for a better way to install/hang the light ?


yrkTA9f0gf0O8gc8PZvnVyZbv5icM1ALJEM9GvI9213vyey9VnR8J7lBKHq0x8ZnEtSaYwkzMwZ91G0RT-xQwpGIIwksWa9ctR4xLxTiN2WF1vi6A5KjkRO8GiuAaqtkN7BY2LjgfHUyQ0vnw9rBVakvD9Yd6Tx8-SWHSGjaFexLoE0ySSZjxc0JgV0x_yMz9wRMRihP-E9N2mEJEPipAAm5Hz-gqHJaofh0Z0t_YLQR3R9faXT0WEzlURpk6gpXZ17lHy1LVWfMzKwr8T3o7QBhrKCOsA-Py3m4G_KX8AOUProoqatixQmbskT_aeKg3ZZrZFG9bsVyBa_7yFo6jfH7HZbl69LFRxJYD7UbcA4b6D4svMiSkZBOuNbl1QtfZqlTcSrmRxJ4Cxmm4U9nJ__VVr4EQ5NixaUHeBTDHqVL18DLxYdjESro_0AiW-XDwW6BG4QQYJWCv-A21FlUZUys9RAL4MPzkf3dxV4LEn3ew70XpGD6ZGK4qHccEmGXwzir23bW14kL3-CHJhKqHAEwuZ7GAHA2OCFpZqPg_g1KknLo-YRo4kIH5Uzd85YXdN3FAlEPuoQagWy4So-WUcbQCBiJPycQdOwgmHGxWgQqnnlbaIdtwlyW2ZKVQeCyR-0q0LxMVFhfTRTH-_pp4WGe7wPA8Y38rxy2OyWOXFAIzeEqtDWzzLtFukd-Uee_G0eUF7muvX7e3Z467R4zr2FrEw=w650-h866-no
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https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipNRMZ2j8eKGDI4ZDt2Ip_jgK3dPJmQDDthdn-Ma
https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipNRMZ2j8eKGDI4ZDt2Ip_jgK3dPJmQDDthdn-Ma
Sopt lamps should never be used and 150 watts in the low small enclosure sound like way too much.

The CHE should be on a thermostat set to 80 degrees.

What type of UV bulbs? Long tubes or cfl types?

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. In the UK, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12%. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
 

Chartis

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A quick update,

@wellington
@Tom

I have the greenhouse cover on the outside of the enclosure covering the wire mesh and with openings cover to to make it a more closed environment. I followed your advice and have switched to 2 individual domes instead of a dual dome, thank you for the heads up. I also have set the CHE element on a Reptile thermostat set to 82*F. The elevated stone area below the basking lamp reads ~95-100*F. I have been able to maintain humidity in the enclosure at 80-90%. Overnight the temperature within the enclosure remained 80-85*F, but with the thermostat I believe I now have a greater influence on how the CHE will function at night. Got some incandescent bulbs and will install/replace promptly.

Here are some more pictures
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