Pyramiding

Kirsty123

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Hi there I have a horsefield tortoise about 10 months old now. Always had bad pyramiding so I've upped the humidity levels. At night when I turn everything off though it goes really high. Up to 70/ 80 percent. During the day it's about 50percent. My tort has curling on the shell and now doesnt seem to be as active eyes closed alot. Temps are about 85 hot end 75 cooler end. I've been told too high humidity can cause respiratory problems which cause eyes to be closed?? I soak at least 3 times a week now worried this is also to often. I'm not sure what to do. Please help
 

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KarenSoCal

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Hi!

Chelmsford MA or UK?


You've been told wrong. Humidity does not cause RI's (respiratory infections). If it did, everyone in AL, FL, LA, and MS would be sick, along with tortoises.

What causes RI's is high humidity with temps that aren't warm enough. Both your humidity and temps are too low. Your tortoise is already suffering from being raised too dry. You say you've upped his humidity...I can't imagine how dry he must have been. If you have any hope of stopping any further pyramiding, you need to really up the humidity to >80% at all times, in every corner of the enclosure. At night, if it goes to 99%, good.

You should be soaking every day for 30 minutes. It's one of the best ways to get them well hydrated. Also, it helps to spray his shell with water several times/day. Use distilled, RO, or collected rainwater for this, as you don't want hard water stains to develop on his shell.

His temps aren't too bad, but since he's closing his eyes a lot I would raise the nighttime temp to 80° for a while. His basking spot should be 95-100°.

Could you send some pictures of his enclosure and the lights and heating you're using? If he is in an open topped enclosure, it is going to be nearly impossible to achieve and maintain the parameters above. We can help you fix that.

His eyes could also be closing because he's trying to brumate. He needs bright lights for 14 hours/day, and warm temps to prevent brumation.

Here's our care sheet that been updated recently.

 
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Kirsty123

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Aug 22, 2020
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Location (City and/or State)
Chelmsford
Hi!

Chelmsford MA or UK?


You've been told wrong. Humidity does not cause RI's (respiratory infections). If it did, everyone in AL, FL, LA, and MS would be sick, along with tortoises.

What causes RI's is high humidity with temps that aren't warm enough. Both your humidity and temps are too low. Your tortoise is already suffering from being raised too dry. You say you've upped his humidity...I can't imagine how dry he must have been. If you have any hope of stopping any further pyramiding, you need to really up the humidity to >80% at all times, in every corner of the enclosure. At night, if it goes to 99%, good.

You should be soaking every day for 30 minutes. It's one of the best ways to get them well hydrated. Also, it helps to spray his shell with water several times/day. Use distilled, RO, or collected rainwater for this, as you don't want hard water stains to develop on his shell.

His temps aren't too bad, but since he's closing his eyes a lot I would raise the nighttime temp to 80° for a while. His basking spot should be 95-100°.

Could you send some pictures of his enclosure and the lights and heating you're using? If he is in an open topped enclosure, it is going to be nearly impossible to achieve and maintain the parameters above. We can help you fix that.

His eyes could also be closing because he's trying to brumate. He needs bright lights for 14 hours/day, and warm temps to prevent brumation.

Here's our care sheet that been updated recently.

Thanks for coming back to me. Chelmsford UK. He is in an open top table. Which is hard to up the humidity I pour water in regularly to help. I feel sad that his shell is so bad I didnt know anything about tortoises when i got him recently as a gift, and then found online what it was :-(. I have a UV long lamp and a basking heat bulb I will send pics. How do I up the night time temperature? I turn both lights of at night so hes just in room temperature.
 

Yossarian

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I would add at least half coco coir to the substrate, and make it a good few inches deep so that it holds a lot of moisture. Then, get a plastic bowl big enough for a hide and cut an opening in it, take out the plant pot and the wooden hide and use the plastic, The sealed plastic holds in a lot more moisture than either of the other hide options you have. Dampen the ground under the hide regularly and before each night to keep humidity up in there. You may need to cover the table completly for the time being but I dont know for sure if that is required myself so wait for more advice in that regard.

The picture of the lamp is just a picture of the lamp holder, it doesnt show us what bulb you have.
 

Tom

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Here are the pics.
What are you using for a heat lamp? Is it a red bulb, or is that just the lighting in the picture?

There is no way to keep an open topped enclosure warm in a cold room. Use a closed chamber. This will help tremendously with the humidity too.
 

KarenSoCal

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Is there a covered area in your enclosure at the bottom of the pic? Does your tortoise use it as a hide at night? If not, as Yossarian wrote, first you need a better hide. An opaque dishwashing bin is perfect. Cut the "door" as described above. If it is a hide, and he uses it at night, make sure to dampen the substrate inside it.

We do need to see what kind of basking bulb you are using, but I'm pretty sure it needs to be replaced.

The best bulb to use is an incandescent flood bulb...flood, not spot. The spot bulbs (what you have, I think) concentrate the light and heat into a spot. That can burn the tort's shell, and doesn't warm him evenly over his whole body. The flood bulb spreads the heat and light over a larger area.

To cover your enclosure, for right now I would just put aluminum foil across it. Make like a tent over the light, and recheck your temps since the heat will be enclosed. The foil is only until you get something more permanent. This link will help you understand your options. I don't think Mark ships to UK, so that option is out, but the other options are on Amazon.


While you're ordering, you need a ceramic heat emitter (CHE), and a thermostat to control it. A CHE gives out heat, but no light. You need this at night when the lights are off to warm the enclosure. You put it on a thermostat set to 80°F, and it will only turn on the CHE when the temp falls below 80°, or wherever you set it.

A sample CHE...you will have to find it in UK Amazon. We use 65 watt...you'd want something close to that.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZSG7MT3/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

A thermostat
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076J1CZVV/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

Is your light hanging by its cord or something else? Don't rely on the clamp...they fail and the lights fall and hurt the tort, or start a fire in the substrate. Houses have burned to the ground.

I think that's it for the moment. Read it all, and come back for help with all this. We'll be glad to explain why we recommend what we do.
 

Kirsty123

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Aug 22, 2020
Messages
36
Location (City and/or State)
Chelmsford
Is there a covered area in your enclosure at the bottom of the pic? Does your tortoise use it as a hide at night? If not, as Yossarian wrote, first you need a better hide. An opaque dishwashing bin is perfect. Cut the "door" as described above. If it is a hide, and he uses it at night, make sure to dampen the substrate inside it.

We do need to see what kind of basking bulb you are using, but I'm pretty sure it needs to be replaced.

The best bulb to use is an incandescent flood bulb...flood, not spot. The spot bulbs (what you have, I think) concentrate the light and heat into a spot. That can burn the tort's shell, and doesn't warm him evenly over his whole body. The flood bulb spreads the heat and light over a larger area.

To cover your enclosure, for right now I would just put aluminum foil across it. Make like a tent over the light, and recheck your temps since the heat will be enclosed. The foil is only until you get something more permanent. This link will help you understand your options. I don't think Mark ships to UK, so that option is out, but the other options are on Amazon.


While you're ordering, you need a ceramic heat emitter (CHE), and a thermostat to control it. A CHE gives out heat, but no light. You need this at night when the lights are off to warm the enclosure. You put it on a thermostat set to 80°F, and it will only turn on the CHE when the temp falls below 80°, or wherever you set it.

A sample CHE...you will have to find it in UK Amazon. We use 65 watt...you'd want something close to that.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZSG7MT3/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

A thermostat
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076J1CZVV/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

Is your light hanging by its cord or something else? Don't rely on the clamp...they fail and the lights fall and hurt the tort, or start a fire in the substrate. Houses have burned to the ground.

I think that's it for the moment. Read it all, and come back for help with all this. We'll be glad to explain why we recommend what we do.
Okay I will defo find the CHE and I'm sure I have a thermostat I got with the set up. Here are pics of the bulb and the end house. Should I be using a thermostat for the heat lamp and the CHE or both? Can you also send me a link for a timer switch as currently I turn the lights on and off myself.

Why do pet stores sell an open top table? It really doesnt sound suitable for tortoises. I was told to 100percent in no way get a vivarium, as these cause RIs.

Appreciate all your help.
 

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KarenSoCal

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Okay I will defo find the CHE and I'm sure I have a thermostat I got with the set up. Here are pics of the bulb and the end house. Should I be using a thermostat for the heat lamp and the CHE or both? Can you also send me a link for a timer switch as currently I turn the lights on and off myself.

Why do pet stores sell an open top table? It really doesnt sound suitable for tortoises. I was told to 100percent in no way get a vivarium, as these cause RIs.

Appreciate all your help.
Yes, that is what you want for the CHE. I can't be sure of the wattage you should buy...only your thermometer can tell you that. I think the 100 watts will be OK, but if you can, I'd try for a 75watt if you can find one. It will screw into a dome lamp like the one you have, with a ceramic socket. The 2nd dome will hold the new basking bulb.

The heat bulb...is it a mercury vapor bulb? Was it made for reptiles? I can't tell by pictures. Do you have the packaging it came in? If you order one of these, we'll know you have the correct kind.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000633UQW/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

The end house...does he sleep in it? If not, try putting him in it an hour or two after dark every night. You're trying to train him to use it. If he won't, then make him the hide out of a bin, and put him in each night.

You only need the thermostat for the CHE. Read this, it explains heat and light well.

4 elements of heating: By Tom

There are four elements to heating and lighting:

Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer 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.

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.

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.

UV. If you can get your tortoise outside 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. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html

A timer

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HVCQE68/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

The round thermo/hygro like you have are notoriously inaccurate. I would recommend you get a few of these. You can put one in each corner of the enclosure.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GNMKYCZ/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

Have you read about the closed chamber? I think the portable greenhouse would work great for you. We have several members using them, and they love them.

Pet stores often don't know how to properly care for a tortoise. They want to sell you stuff. Someone a long time ago decided to make up a package, and that's how it has stayed regardless of all the new husbandry methods that have been found to work much better than the old.
 

Yossarian

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Messages
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Okay I will defo find the CHE and I'm sure I have a thermostat I got with the set up. Here are pics of the bulb and the end house. Should I be using a thermostat for the heat lamp and the CHE or both? Can you also send me a link for a timer switch as currently I turn the lights on and off myself.

Why do pet stores sell an open top table? It really doesnt sound suitable for tortoises. I was told to 100percent in no way get a vivarium, as these cause RIs.

Appreciate all your help.

Their needs as babies are not well understood by non-owners. Tables can generally make great habitats for adult temperate species (as long as ambient temps are warm enough) but it is nearly impossible to make the right conditions for babies without a closed chamber. Pet stores just dont have the expertise to understand the difference, plus they want to sell you something.
 

Kirsty123

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Pretty sure this is the bulb I have, thanks so much for all your help I'm currently filling up my amazon basket. I do have a thermostat https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006PGCLK0/?tag=
I have just tried to use it on my bulb to see how to but I cant get it to work. Can you help me with how they actually work I cant see an on/off switch. I haven't used one before.
 

Kirsty123

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Sorted the thermostat now and have purchased a CHE, the bulb is a spot bulb I'm sure, I can't order the one you sent or find one in the UK is there anything similar I can get?
 

Yossarian

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Nov 21, 2015
Messages
59
Brilliant that's great thank you. One final question what is brumation?

TLDR: Torts dont technically hibernate, that is a term for warm blooded species during cold weather, Torts Brumate in both cold and warm weather, and potentially for other reasons (fires) and drought.
 

Kirsty123

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Location (City and/or State)
Chelmsford

TLDR: Torts dont technically hibernate, that is a term for warm blooded species during cold weather, Torts Brumate in both cold and warm weather, and potentially for other reasons (fires) and drought.
Oh okay that make sense. I think he is starting to do that. Hopefully everything I have now will keep him warmer and awake.
 

Yossarian

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TLDR: Torts dont technically hibernate, that is a term for warm blooded species during cold weather, Torts Brumate in both cold weather and Aestivate during warm weather, and potentially for other reasons (fires) and drought.
Lol, just realised what I did, cant edit though. Should have said:

TLDR: Torts dont technically hibernate, that is a term for warm blooded species during cold weather, Torts Brumate in both cold weather and Aestivate during warm weather, and potentially for other reasons (fires) and drought.
 

Kirsty123

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Aug 22, 2020
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Chelmsford
I've noticed since adding more water to increase humidity, that there are small flies around like tiny ones. Will these hurt the tortoise at all. I am currently searching for a greenhouse cover to increase the humity.
 
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