New RF owner with enclosure questions!

MountainFox

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Platinum Tortoise Club
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Nov 1, 2017
Messages
63
Location (City and/or State)
Raleigh, NC
Hello fellow lovers of the half-shell! I recently adopted the criminally adorable Libbon, a 13 year old male RF. He is everything I hoped for in a little monster and more (I can’t help gushing). Libbon is very friendly captive-bred, and has had one owner his whole life. He has been SO LOVED. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the best diet or habitat conditions. He’s been fed almost exclusively tortoise pellets, and has been living in a 2’x3’ tank with one lone cfl bulb (normal light bulb, no heat or uvb). His bedding was 100% reptile bark with nothing to retain or add moisture. When I adopted him, he was wheezing, blowing snot bubbles, and had watery eyes. Poor baby. Got him to a fantastic reptile vet, and we just finished the three week course of antibiotic injections. He also has some pyramiding and pronounced weakness in his back legs. We’re hoping that more space and better nutrition will improve his muscle tone in the back legs. I’m looking forward to loving Libbon just as much as his old family, but also giving him a husbandry upgrade!

I live in Central NC, and we have hot humid weather much of the year (insufferable for humans, great for RFs). In all but the coldest months, Libbon will have a large outdoor enclosure (8’x8’ or larger, yet to be built). For the few months that are too cold, I’ve gotten a 3’x8’ steel stock tank (thank you Ernie Johnson, for the amazing idea!!) that I’m keeping in an insulated (but not heated) workshop attached to my house. I’m following Ernie’s set-up as closely as possible, but I still have some very specific heating questions. For additional reference, substrate is about 3” of coco coir, topped with 1” of cypress mulch/repti bark. I am still figuring out what substrate works best for us, so we’re experimenting. I loathe the smell of reptibark, though.... I have a humidifier that I’ve rigged to output through a tube, and the lights/humidifier will be set on (different) timers, with the CHEs thermostatically controlled. Th top will be covered with acrylic sheet pieces, with the lights/CHE mounted to 2x4s across the width of the tank. My original intention was to use 2 100watt CHEs, a 13 watt 5.0 trop uvb bulb, and a normal incandescent bulb for light. As I’ve gotten the two CHEs running (covered with Mylar right now), I’m thinking that will likely need three during the coldest days.

Okay, so much background! On to my questions... Since we know that shell/ground/air temp measurements can vary considerably, where do you place your thermometer probes that control the CHEs? How close to the substrate? How close to the heat source? I’m using the thermostats designed for heat maps. We talk about ideal ambient temps being 82F-86F, but what on/off temps do you use for each of the zones (Bask/normal/hide)? I also have a wireless thermometer/hygrometer with 3 receivers inside of the tank. These are for monitoring, but do not control anything.

One last question! We definitely have sunny winter days in the high 50s-low 60s. Advice seems to consistently say that RFs should come inside or have a heated refuge when the temps drop below 60. How cold is too cold on a sunny day?

Thank you all for reading my novel! I appreciate any help you can offer!
 

MountainFox

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Messages
63
Location (City and/or State)
Raleigh, NC
Also, what is the appropriate distance from the base of the reflector to the substrate? Is there a different measurement I should use instead? The reflector domes are 10.5” in diameter, and there is about a 3” gap from the bottom of the CHE to the bottom of the dome.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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A UVB source is needed and needed quickly.
It's no doubt why his legs are weak.
Far from being loved. He was cared for by someone who should not have kept a tortoise and it has suffered.
However, you are in a great spot with this forum.
You want overall temps of between 80 and 89 with 82 to 84 being the target.
At least 70% humidity and no bright lights.
And a UVB source. Most of us Redfoot keepers use a strip florescent lamp with a 5.0 tube
 

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ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
If it is warm during the day, give him some time in the sun.
Indirect light is better if it is very hot. Otherwise direct sun.
Direct sun is usually not advised for a Redfoot. But we need to get him some UV. He seems to be suffering from mineral deficiency and bone issues due to lack of UVB.
Provide a hiding area and water.
Check out our care section. Redfoot can eat a huge variety of foods. More than most other tortoises and you need to offer it.
Fruit. Leaves. Flowers dog or cat food and Mazuri tortoise chow. (Not the LS type)
It's very likely that you can get these issues resolved and you guys can have many happy and healthy decades together.
We will help in any way that we can!
 
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TammyJ

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Welcome to you Mountain Fox and Libbon! You came to a great site and will get all the help you need from experts here!
 

MountainFox

Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Messages
63
Location (City and/or State)
Raleigh, NC
Thank you! I have had a uvb in his temporary enclosure since he came home. I’ve given him sun time when possible, but he pretty much just crawls under the leaves. Normal behavior, but not so good for soaking up the rays. I’ve also been more concerned about the outdoor temp since he had a respiratory infection and quickly buries himself in the presumably colder leaves. He’s been a voracious eater of turnip, dandelion and mustard greens, along with tropical fruits and weekly softened low fat cat food (so smelly!). My boy likes all of the foods :).

For the temps, I’m finding that the thermometer might say it’s in 70s (mounted low on the enclosure wall), but his shell temps could be mid 90s right under the lamp. I about died when I got the IR temp gun and saw how hot he was when the thermometer was saying 85... The current enclosure is small, and I think that’s driving a lot of the inconsistency, along with distance from shell to CHE. The new enclosure is a whole new world, and that’s why I’m trying to figure out specifically where to mount the thermostat probes, and what temps to set them at. Since the distance from the CHEs will drastically impact the readouts, and then probe temp will most likely be lower than shell temp, I wanted to know these details from other’s setups. I could be ridiculously overthinking it, but hey, that’s better than not thinking enough, right?

Thank you again for the help!
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
24,227
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
It sounds like you have a good handle on things.
You're in better shape than I thought.
Let me recommend a digital thermometer/humidity gauge combo from Home Depot.
$10 and the best ten bucks you'll ever spend.
Mount it low and in the center of the enclosure.
I break off the clip and mount them with velcro.
They hold up to humidity and are accurate
 

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baldegale

Active Member
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Feb 14, 2017
Messages
460
Hello fellow lovers of the half-shell! I recently adopted the criminally adorable Libbon, a 13 year old male RF. He is everything I hoped for in a little monster and more (I can’t help gushing). Libbon is very friendly captive-bred, and has had one owner his whole life. He has been SO LOVED. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the best diet or habitat conditions. He’s been fed almost exclusively tortoise pellets, and has been living in a 2’x3’ tank with one lone cfl bulb (normal light bulb, no heat or uvb). His bedding was 100% reptile bark with nothing to retain or add moisture. When I adopted him, he was wheezing, blowing snot bubbles, and had watery eyes. Poor baby. Got him to a fantastic reptile vet, and we just finished the three week course of antibiotic injections. He also has some pyramiding and pronounced weakness in his back legs. We’re hoping that more space and better nutrition will improve his muscle tone in the back legs. I’m looking forward to loving Libbon just as much as his old family, but also giving him a husbandry upgrade!

I live in Central NC, and we have hot humid weather much of the year (insufferable for humans, great for RFs). In all but the coldest months, Libbon will have a large outdoor enclosure (8’x8’ or larger, yet to be built). For the few months that are too cold, I’ve gotten a 3’x8’ steel stock tank (thank you Ernie Johnson, for the amazing idea!!) that I’m keeping in an insulated (but not heated) workshop attached to my house. I’m following Ernie’s set-up as closely as possible, but I still have some very specific heating questions. For additional reference, substrate is about 3” of coco coir, topped with 1” of cypress mulch/repti bark. I am still figuring out what substrate works best for us, so we’re experimenting. I loathe the smell of reptibark, though.... I have a humidifier that I’ve rigged to output through a tube, and the lights/humidifier will be set on (different) timers, with the CHEs thermostatically controlled. Th top will be covered with acrylic sheet pieces, with the lights/CHE mounted to 2x4s across the width of the tank. My original intention was to use 2 100watt CHEs, a 13 watt 5.0 trop uvb bulb, and a normal incandescent bulb for light. As I’ve gotten the two CHEs running (covered with Mylar right now), I’m thinking that will likely need three during the coldest days.

Okay, so much background! On to my questions... Since we know that shell/ground/air temp measurements can vary considerably, where do you place your thermometer probes that control the CHEs? How close to the substrate? How close to the heat source? I’m using the thermostats designed for heat maps. We talk about ideal ambient temps being 82F-86F, but what on/off temps do you use for each of the zones (Bask/normal/hide)? I also have a wireless thermometer/hygrometer with 3 receivers inside of the tank. These are for monitoring, but do not control anything.

One last question! We definitely have sunny winter days in the high 50s-low 60s. Advice seems to consistently say that RFs should come inside or have a heated refuge when the temps drop below 60. How cold is too cold on a sunny day?

Thank you all for reading my novel! I appreciate any help you can offer!

whered you get your stock tank and how much was it? was thinking of doing the same thing with my indoor enclosure. also plan on building an 8’x8’ outdoor enclosure out of cinder blocks this summer too.
 

MountainFox

Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Messages
63
Location (City and/or State)
Raleigh, NC
I got mine from Agri-Supply, but they also carried them at a couple of other stores in my area (Tractor Supply and Southern States). I definitely didn’t have any prior experience with agricultural supply stores, but so I was able to find them by googling stock tank and looking at the results near me. Good luck!
 

baldegale

Active Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2017
Messages
460
I got mine from Agri-Supply, but they also carried them at a couple of other stores in my area (Tractor Supply and Southern States). I definitely didn’t have any prior experience with agricultural supply stores, but so I was able to find them by googling stock tank and looking at the results near me. Good luck!

i saw them at tractor supply earlier today haha, i was just wondering if there was a place to find them cheaper than $250! i normally build my tanks out of wood and theyre significantly cheaper so its hard for me to spend that much hahaha
 

MountainFox

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Messages
63
Location (City and/or State)
Raleigh, NC
It was much cheaper at Agri-Supply, so I drove the extra distance to get it there. I think that’s a regional chain, but maybe you have something similar near you.
 

baldegale

Active Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2017
Messages
460
It was much cheaper at Agri-Supply, so I drove the extra distance to get it there. I think that’s a regional chain, but maybe you have something similar near you.

closest one is 400 miles away LOL, look at the most recent post in the RF forum, i think thats what im gonna do.
 
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