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Newby "Granny" to a Russian Tortoise - night temperatures!!

Discussion in 'Russian tortoises' started by George's Granny, Sep 18, 2019.

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  1. George's Granny

    George's Granny New Member

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    Thanks for your welcome Josh.

    Have recently become the "Granny" of a Russian Tortoise and am just making sure we are doing our best for him. He is 5 years old and weighs 317gm. He spends most days in an outdoor enclosure of 9 square metres and seems happy with that if not too windy, he loves to burrow and has freaked us out a couple of times cos he blends in well with his surroundings but is, we think, generally safe as the enclosure has 30cm high wall and is on level ground.

    I was just reading the post "common mistakes made by beginners" and the biggest thing I note from that is I am not totally sure on the 4 zone temperatures ideal for him, particularly inside, and I have read so many different things on the web hence my joining your forum.

    At night George comes in to his indoor house, which will need changing as he gets bigger and once the weather changes. His night time temperature in the house is around 20 degs C. He sleeps in the dark. In the morning we put on his UVA/UVB light and if he feels cool we put his ceramic heat light on until he "activates" and starts moving around. Is 20 degs C high enough overnight? The heat lamp is not situated over his hiding place but is on the other side of his indoor enclosure. Thanks for your help.
    Samantha Graham likes this.
  2. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    Any temperatures higher than 16 are fine for night, and basking temperatures indoors should be 36-38 degrees.
  3. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Hello and welcome. Glad you found us. There is so much wrong info about tortoise care circulating around out there in the world.

    Your basking lamps and UV should be on a timer. The ceramic heating element should be on a thermostat.



    There are four elements to heating and lighting:
    1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer for 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. You can mount a fixture on the ceiling, or hang a dome lamp from the ceiling. Go lower or higher wattage if this makes the enclosure too hot or not warm enough. Do not use "spot" bulbs, mercury vapor bulbs or halogen bulbs.
    2. Ambient heat maintenance. Unless your house gets unusually cold at night, you can skip this step for a Russian. Night lows above 60 require no night heat for Testudo species.
    3. Light. I use florescent tubes for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most tubes at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. I've been using LEDs lately and they are great, and run cooler than a florescent. This can be set on the same timer as the basking bulb. If your tortoises room is already adequately lit, you don't need this one either.
    4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside in a safe secure enclosure for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. It helps to have a UV meter to test and see what your bulb is actually putting out at your mounting height. Plexi-glass or screen tops will filter out some or all of the UV produced by your bulb.
    Questions and conversation are welcome. :)
  4. George's Granny

    George's Granny New Member

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    Thank you TechnoCheese for your answer, glad I joined and glad I asked. We are just starting to plan his larger future indoor enclosure ready for when the weather turns. I will add his photo to my profile soon as he is adorable : )
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  5. George's Granny

    George's Granny New Member

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    Thanks Tom, all info well received. At the moment George is going out everyday and as I said I am just putting the UV light on in the morning when it is still daybreak to "help" him get enough hours but if you are saying that only 1 or 2 hours a day will be enough then perhaps I need not do that until winter when the days are shorter and the sun less frequent. His indoor compound is directly beneath a skylight so he should get enough natural daylight I think. His heat bulb is hanging from the ceiling in a dome lamp, on a chain fixture so we can regulate the distance from his enclosure. No top on the enclosure so he should be getting all his uv requirements.
    Thanks again for all your useful info : )
    Samantha Graham, RosemaryDW and Tom like this.
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