Proper lighting

Reed Thoma

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I have been doing some research on keeping galops and aldabras because they are my dream animals. The problem is i'm in Minnesota. Ideally I would live down south more so they could be outside most of the year. But in Minnesota they would be inside many months of the year. I was just wondering what kind of lighting (UVB and heat of course) would you suggest. Anything specific to ensure good shell productionand an all around healthy tort?
 

Tom

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UV has little to do with good shell production.

Do you have a large heated and insulted warehouse? How would you house a tropical giant where you are. They need a large warm area every day of the year.
 

Yvonne G

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There are a couple of different lights for indoor tortoises. My light of choice is the tube type fluorescent UVB bulb for UVB:

T-5 fluorescent bulb.jpg

Then a radiant heat panel for heat:

radiant heat panel.jpg

And to keep the overall temperature in the shed/barn warm, an oil filled, electric radiator:

1582119016536.png

There should also be a basking light for those days when the tortoise can't go outside. (your power bill will be horrendous!)
 

Relic

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I can't imagine the headache of dealing with a power outage in your area, while trying to maintain a very warm habitat for such a large animal(s). It's OK to dream, we all do, but at some point reality has to slip its cold nose under the tent flap...now if moving to south Florida is an option I say go for it.
 

Bébert81

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I Don't know if you have the same brand in US but I really like HID bulbs with ballast from Solar Raptor.
For african species I'm using 35W flood type or 70W flood type with ballast of same power.
 

Reed Thoma

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UV has little to do with good shell production.

Do you have a large heated and insulted warehouse? How would you house a tropical giant where you are. They need a large warm area every day of the year.
Tom I don't have a building like that yet. I know it will take a lot of work and money but it will be awesome. I am just in a planning stage and am not going to get a giant tort anytime soon I just wanna know all the factors going into it.
Also I heard humidity and proper diet go into shell production. I thought UVB did too but I guess I was mistaken.
 

Reed Thoma

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I can't imagine the headache of dealing with a power outage in your area, while trying to maintain a very warm habitat for such a large animal(s). It's OK to dream, we all do, but at some point reality has to slip its cold nose under the tent flap...now if moving to south Florida is an option I say go for it.
I know this doesn't sound plausible but I am trying to find a way to make it work. This being said may move to Texas in the future but so far i'm in MN. I have been doing research and will not be starting this project for a very long time but just wanna learn more about them. Also the risk of a power outage is the same for anyone with a pet reptile in the north. You just have back-ups like generators and such. I appreciate your input and will further my research. I know it won't be easy but I've always loved a good challenge.
 

Markw84

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Tom I don't have a building like that yet. I know it will take a lot of work and money but it will be awesome. I am just in a planning stage and am not going to get a giant tort anytime soon I just wanna know all the factors going into it.
Also I heard humidity and proper diet go into shell production. I thought UVB did too but I guess I was mistaken.
Humidity seems to be the main factor in proper tortoise development that is most often misunderstood and neglected. But it MUST be with proper heat as well.

UVB and diet go to the proper bone development of a healthy tortoise, and of course bone is the main structural component of the shell. without proper diet and UVB / D3 bone cannot develop properly and metabolic bone disease becomes an issue. Good diet and UV is also essential to many, many other metabolic and "well being" needs of a tortoise.

Keeping a tortoise in a cold area is a big problem the bigger the tortoise. Most folks speak of overnight and minimum temps as the main concern. But that is only a part of the equation. Tortoises need a way to heat their core body temps daily to a proper metabolic level. For tortoises, that means a core body temperature in the 85° - 90° range. That is hard to achieve while still giving the tortoise ample room to move about for proper bone and muscle development and "physiological" well-being.

this is compounded by the nature of tortoises who "know' that the ground is the stable temperature they need. The use the ground to warm up in cold spells and cool down in oppressively hot weather. They are "programmed" that way. They know the ground temperature is their night box in nature. It is never cold and never too hot. So they dig in under bushes, or in crevices or dig burrows. But in a cold area the ground temperature is much different. Where you live the ground temperature in winter is going to be around 40° In summer it will still be 60° a few inches down on a "hot" day. A tortoise rests and spends a great deal of time pushed into these places like corners, under bushes, under anything it can find. It "knows" that is where the temperatue (and humidity) is correct for resting. But it is totally wrong in our climates. The tortoise thinks its good, but instead starts to cool. Soon its too cold for proper metabolic activity and too cold to move, so it waits for the gound to warm it. But it never happens....

If a project like this were to work, it would have to be something in the order of:

A very large greenhouse - at least 1000 sq ft minimum. Heated to a minimum of 70°. A large "night box" within the greenhouse for overnight - heated to 82° constantly.
A large array of incandescent or MVB bulbs mounted at least 2 feet above tortoise shell and an array large enough to create a basking area 2x the size of the tortoise. That area should reach about 95°-100° for most of the daytime hours.

You need to create as close to the tropics as you can - where you are!
 

Tom

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Tom I don't have a building like that yet. I know it will take a lot of work and money but it will be awesome. I am just in a planning stage and am not going to get a giant tort anytime soon I just wanna know all the factors going into it.
Also I heard humidity and proper diet go into shell production. I thought UVB did too but I guess I was mistaken.
There is all sorts of old wrong info about pyramiding. The cause has been attributed to everything under the sun at one time or another. Diet, lights, lack of UV, calcium, protein, etc... Pyramiding is caused by growth in conditions that are too dry. Using over head basking bulbs of the wrong types can dry them out, and this would fall under the heading of making things "too dry".
 

Reed Thoma

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Humidity seems to be the main factor in proper tortoise development that is most often misunderstood and neglected. But it MUST be with proper heat as well.

UVB and diet go to the proper bone development of a healthy tortoise, and of course bone is the main structural component of the shell. without proper diet and UVB / D3 bone cannot develop properly and metabolic bone disease becomes an issue. Good diet and UV is also essential to many, many other metabolic and "well being" needs of a tortoise.

Keeping a tortoise in a cold area is a big problem the bigger the tortoise. Most folks speak of overnight and minimum temps as the main concern. But that is only a part of the equation. Tortoises need a way to heat their core body temps daily to a proper metabolic level. For tortoises, that means a core body temperature in the 85° - 90° range. That is hard to achieve while still giving the tortoise ample room to move about for proper bone and muscle development and "physiological" well-being.

this is compounded by the nature of tortoises who "know' that the ground is the stable temperature they need. The use the ground to warm up in cold spells and cool down in oppressively hot weather. They are "programmed" that way. They know the ground temperature is their night box in nature. It is never cold and never too hot. So they dig in under bushes, or in crevices or dig burrows. But in a cold area the ground temperature is much different. Where you live the ground temperature in winter is going to be around 40° In summer it will still be 60° a few inches down on a "hot" day. A tortoise rests and spends a great deal of time pushed into these places like corners, under bushes, under anything it can find. It "knows" that is where the temperatue (and humidity) is correct for resting. But it is totally wrong in our climates. The tortoise thinks its good, but instead starts to cool. Soon its too cold for proper metabolic activity and too cold to move, so it waits for the gound to warm it. But it never happens....

If a project like this were to work, it would have to be something in the order of:

A very large greenhouse - at least 1000 sq ft minimum. Heated to a minimum of 70°. A large "night box" within the greenhouse for overnight - heated to 82° constantly.
A large array of incandescent or MVB bulbs mounted at least 2 feet above tortoise shell and an array large enough to create a basking area 2x the size of the tortoise. That area should reach about 95°-100° for most of the daytime hours.

You need to create as close to the tropics as you can - where you are!
This is some good information. Thank you very much.
 

MichiganMan

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Not an expert at all and maybe some will chime in. Would building the shed more like a insulated sauna help with humidity? Like have a box with hot rocks in the shed and put water on them a couple times a day for steam to make humidity? Just an idea.
 

Reed Thoma

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Not an expert at all and maybe some will chime in. Would building the shed more like a insulated sauna help with humidity? Like have a box with hot rocks in the shed and put water on them a couple times a day for steam to make humidity? Just an idea.
That would be interesting. Although I think it would be hard to keep a consistent temperature as most of those are wood burning. I don't know much about them but kind of an interesting idea.
 

Bébert81

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Pyramiding is caused by several factors. For me everything is important to keep a shell in a good shape and the animal healthy.
Whatever you will choose keep in mind that the best way to keep an animal is to reproduce its natural biotope.
 

Armadillogroomer

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Adding humidity by hand is not realistic. It’s hard enough for many reptile keepers to keep up their humidity in a small area. Lugging a bucket of water to a shed several times a day is going to get tedious. You could probably engineer an electric pool heater and an automatic source of water to work this way, but getting things consistent and safe will be your biggest hurdle if you want to piecemeal a habitat.

It doesn’t hurt to start talking to some zoos up north and seeing how they do it (aside from the obvious answer of $$$).
 

Reed Thoma

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Adding humidity by hand is not realistic. It’s hard enough for many reptile keepers to keep up their humidity in a small area. Lugging a bucket of water to a shed several times a day is going to get tedious. You could probably engineer an electric pool heater and an automatic source of water to work this way, but getting things consistent and safe will be your biggest hurdle if you want to piecemeal a habitat.

It doesn’t hurt to start talking to some zoos up north and seeing how they do it (aside from the obvious answer of $$$).
I was going to contact the como zoo that is up here in MN and see how they care for their galops. Also I was going to contact the Lincoln Park zoo in Chicago and ask about their aldabras.
 

William Lee Kohler

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Do it the easy way: Move down south and save a lot of recurring expenses. Consider how much maintenance are you willing to pay over a span of years just for housing and heat?
 
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