New Tortoise owner

LumpyRed

New Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Camas, Washington
Hello. I got my first tortoise this weekend. It’s a red foot. My experience with reptiles is water dragons, snakes, and turtles. This is a lot different. I bought an enclosure and got it home. After setting it up, I realized it was inadequate. I picked up a 100 gallon and a bigger UVB. Also got an infrared and a ceramic for heat. I’m running the infrared in a dual bulb fixture with a day blue UVA. I’ve been spraying water to keep the humidity up, but it’s not really going well. I just ordered a monsoon solo 2 mister I can set. I think I may need to find a way to keep the habitat more closed. I’m really excited to have a buddy again and I want to make sure it’s happy. My dog passed away a few weeks ago, so the house has been lonely. We had 12 great years. Hopefully Lumpy and I will have 50 great ones too. I’m looking into plants and other stuff to put inside the enclosure. It is pretty bare right now. It’s a very young tortoise and I’m sure it’s a bit shocked from all the commotion of being moved around so much. Any advice on improving would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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queen koopa

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Las Vegas Nevada
@ZEROPILOT
Tagged a Red Foot guy for you 😀

I can tell you that high humidity is needed for this species with warm temps, 80-86F. No lower than 80 at all times. Also the infrared light is not meant for tortoise (even though there’s advertising for it. Its BS). Tortoise see color therefore the light changes the color of food and substrate causing confusion and can interfere with their sleep cycles. I made that mistake when I first got my tortoise as well. I keep an 8yr old Sulcata 😀 she is year round outdoors as she is about 50 pounds now. Redfoots get nowhere near that size but will require minimum 4ftx8ft within a few years.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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@ZEROPILOT
Tagged a Red Foot guy for you 😀

I can tell you that high humidity is needed for this species with warm temps, 80-86F. No lower than 80 at all times. Also the infrared light is not meant for tortoise (even though there’s advertising for it. Its BS). Tortoise see color therefore the light changes the color of food and substrate causing confusion and can interfere with their sleep cycles. I made that mistake when I first got my tortoise as well. I keep an 8yr old Sulcata 😀 she is year round outdoors as she is about 50 pounds now. Redfoots get nowhere near that size but will require minimum 4ftx8ft within a few years.
Yes.
The lights are wrong.
You can use a regular incandescent 60 watt household bulb or a CHE. Although a CHE will need another, ceramic based dome fixture.
Those double domes are rather useless.
Also, your UVB light is a T8. Not a T5.
A T8 isn't very effective at anything more than about 8" away.
See if you can attach that light to the underside of the top with some screws and washers. Then you will have the light closer, and also not lose any of the UVB.
Then you can cut a piece of plexiglass and cover the rest of the top. Making a closed chamber. A closed chamber will help you retain the 75%+ humidity you need and also hold in the warmth.
The acrylic would be easier. But neither will be larger enough for very long.
The aquarium would be very simple. Just get the CHE and the UVB INSIDE and place two plexi lids on top. Covering most of the open areas. You can even get fancy and silicone glue some hinges on the lids so they flip up.
(Also, safety wire your CHE because those clamps, etc, fail. And a hot CHE or a bulb falling into your enclosure is a fire waiting to happen.)
 
Last edited:

KarenSoCal

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Also, the temp/humidity gauges you're using are notoriously inaccurate. Get a digital thermometer/hygrometer combo with a probe. Then you can put the probe exactly where you want to check temps. In addition to the digital therm/hygro, you would find a temp gun very useful. You just point it at what you want to check and it instantly reads the temp where the dot was. You can even check the actual temp of your tort's shell. Well worth the money. You can find the probe therm/hygro and the temp gun at Home Depot or Lowes. You should be able to get both for under $50.

The temp probe should be placed down at tortoise height, not up high on the wall.
 

LumpyRed

New Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Camas, Washington
Yes.
The lights are wrong.
You can use a regular incandescent 60 watt household bulb or a CHE. Although a CHE will need another, ceramic based dome fixture.
Those double domes are rather useless.
Also, your UVB light is a T8. Not a T5.
A T8 isn't very effective at anything more than about 8" away.
See if you can attach that light to the underside of the top with some screws and washers. Then you will have the light closer, and also not lose any of the UVB.
Then you can cut a piece of plexiglass and cover the rest of the top. Making a closed chamber. A closed chamber will help you retain the 75%+ humidity you need and also hold in the warmth.
The acrylic would be easier. But neither will be larger enough for very long.
The aquarium would be very simple. Just get the CHE and the UVB INSIDE and place two plexi lids on top. Covering most of the open areas. You can even get fancy and silicone glue some hinges on the lids so they flip up.
(Also, safety wire your CHE because those clamps, etc, fail. And a hot CHE or a bulb falling into your enclosure is a fire waiting to happen.)
Oh man.. do I need to just scrap the dual fixture and get a couple ceramic for some CHE? Is the daylight blue doing anything? Do I need to worry about the moisture and the lights?
 

LumpyRed

New Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Camas, Washington
Also, the temp/humidity gauges you're using are notoriously inaccurate. Get a digital thermometer/hygrometer combo with a probe. Then you can put the probe exactly where you want to check temps. In addition to the digital therm/hygro, you would find a temp gun very useful. You just point it at what you want to check and it instantly reads the temp where the dot was. You can even check the actual temp of your tort's shell. Well worth the money. You can find the probe therm/hygro and the temp gun at Home Depot or Lowes. You should be able to get both for under $50.

The temp probe should be placed down at tortoise height, not up high on the wall.
I have a couple of those in my tool box! Never even considered using one. Thank you
 

LumpyRed

New Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Camas, Washington
Yes.
The lights are wrong.
You can use a regular incandescent 60 watt household bulb or a CHE. Although a CHE will need another, ceramic based dome fixture.
Those double domes are rather useless.
Also, your UVB light is a T8. Not a T5.
A T8 isn't very effective at anything more than about 8" away.
See if you can attach that light to the underside of the top with some screws and washers. Then you will have the light closer, and also not lose any of the UVB.
Then you can cut a piece of plexiglass and cover the rest of the top. Making a closed chamber. A closed chamber will help you retain the 75%+ humidity you need and also hold in the warmth.
The acrylic would be easier. But neither will be larger enough for very long.
The aquarium would be very simple. Just get the CHE and the UVB INSIDE and place two plexi lids on top. Covering most of the open areas. You can even get fancy and silicone glue some hinges on the lids so they flip up.
(Also, safety wire your CHE because those clamps, etc, fail. And a hot CHE or a bulb falling into your enclosure is a fire waiting to happen.)
I called the store I bought the lights from. I am able to return them. Would you be able to recommend to me what you would use? I’m not sure how to make this a closed system just yet. I can fab up a sheet metal lid for the heat on one side. Sorry to bug you.
 

ZEROPILOT

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I called the store I bought the lights from. I am able to return them. Would you be able to recommend to me what you would use? I’m not sure how to make this a closed system just yet. I can fab up a sheet metal lid for the heat on one side. Sorry to bug you.
That's great that they'll take them back.
You can use quite a few things to cover those holes on top.
And even though it sounds contrary to logic, I've never encountered issues with my lights inside of a closed chamber.
Turn them on and off with plug in timers so that you don't need to reach inside and do it manually.
 

LumpyRed

New Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Camas, Washington
That's great that they'll take them back.
You can use quite a few things to cover those holes on top.
And even though it sounds contrary to logic, I've never encountered issues with my lights inside of a closed chamber.
Turn them on and off with plug in timers so that you don't need to reach inside and do it manually.
I am going to find a T5 like you said. I’m guessing I should use the 10.0 bulb? I think one ceramic heater bulb will keep the enclosure to correct temp. I’ll add a thermostat and a timer. I’m picking up a mister and some moss today. I think that should keep the moisture correct. I just made a cutout with some galvanized sheet metal to seal the heat lamp side. I have polycarbonate cutouts to seal the rest of the tank.
 

AgataP

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I am going to find a T5 like you said. I’m guessing I should use the 10.0 bulb? I think one ceramic heater bulb will keep the enclosure to correct temp. I’ll add a thermostat and a timer. I’m picking up a mister and some moss today. I think that should keep the moisture correct. I just made a cutout with some galvanized sheet metal to seal the heat lamp side. I have polycarbonate cutouts to seal the rest of the tank.

Skip the moss. Torts try to eat it and it’s not good for them.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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I am going to find a T5 like you said. I’m guessing I should use the 10.0 bulb? I think one ceramic heater bulb will keep the enclosure to correct temp. I’ll add a thermostat and a timer. I’m picking up a mister and some moss today. I think that should keep the moisture correct. I just made a cutout with some galvanized sheet metal to seal the heat lamp side. I have polycarbonate cutouts to seal the rest of the tank.
For a Redfoot, a T5 5.0 or 6% will be just fine
 

Armadillogroomer

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OK
Do you know of a good alternative?

As Zero said, orchid (or fir bark at the hardwood store, and more expensively known as Reptibark at the pet store) is very good substrate. If that's cypress that you already have, you can add the fir bark right over the top of it. Since the orchid/fir bark is flat, it will tamp down and hold in humidity under the substrate. When you get your plants/decor, shady areas will also stay more moist.

Condolences on your pup. After my dog passed, it took me a long time to stop thinking that I heard the clicky clack of nails or snorting around for food. It gets easier. Redfoots are perfect chill-out and relax buddies.
 

AgataP

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Do you know of a good alternative?

What I do I place plants that I know tortoise can eat. For example I put wheatgrass seeds right in the bark and in few days I have a bunch of grass that I know it’s safe and I know my tortoise loves it. I also pull weeds from outside (no chemicals used on them) and stick them right in the substrate. That way my tort has food and loves walking on them. Costs me nothing too.
 

LumpyRed

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Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Camas, Washington
As Zero said, orchid (or fir bark at the hardwood store, and more expensively known as Reptibark at the pet store) is very good substrate. If that's cypress that you already have, you can add the fir bark right over the top of it. Since the orchid/fir bark is flat, it will tamp down and hold in humidity under the substrate. When you get your plants/decor, shady areas will also stay more moist.

Condolences on your pup. After my dog passed, it took me a long time to stop thinking that I heard the clicky clack of nails or snorting around for food. It gets easier. Redfoots are perfect chill-out and relax buddies.
The enclosure is forest floor by zoo med and their soil mixture. I started 50/50, but went and added another 3/4 of a bag of the bark.

Thank you. I miss my boy a lot. I’m trying to keep busy and keep up. It’s so weird to be alone like this. I have work, friends, and am dating, but this is different. It’s been him and I for 12 years. I know it will get better. I knew I was not ready for another pup. I still got his blanket I smell a few times a week. (Don’t want to wear it out). :( I think this little tortoise is helping though. He and I just met, but I think we will be buds eventually. It’s nice to put a piece of my self into something right now. You know what I mean?
 

Jan A

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The enclosure is forest floor by zoo med and their soil mixture. I started 50/50, but went and added another 3/4 of a bag of the bark.

Thank you. I miss my boy a lot. I’m trying to keep busy and keep up. It’s so weird to be alone like this. I have work, friends, and am dating, but this is different. It’s been him and I for 12 years. I know it will get better. I knew I was not ready for another pup. I still got his blanket I smell a few times a week. (Don’t want to wear it out). :( I think this little tortoise is helping though. He and I just met, but I think we will be buds eventually. It’s nice to put a piece of my self into something right now. You know what I mean?
We do love our animals, even when they're gone. Welcome to the forum!!
 
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