Questions from a new owner!

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Redlance

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I purchased my very first redfoot, a cherry head, on Sunday! Not sure how old s/he is because the store didn't know... she's about 2 inches long and was the most active of the few they were selling and kept coming up to the glass, so we decided she was the one!

We set up a 66 quart rubbermaid-type tub that's about 6" tall and 37" wide and filled the bottom with the jungle bed substrate, with one of those half-log hides in the centre. The lid on the tub can open at both ends, so we have it kind of folded in half to allow for the heat from the lamp. There's another half plant pot hide filled with moist beaked moss on the cooler, darker side and a water dish near the log in the centre. There's a heat lamp with a 50w daylight spot bulb in it - which we were told would be good, but that doesn't seem to be the case -but no other kind of heat source as of yet. I have ordered a ceramic heater and a UVB bulb that should be coming in the mail any day now. Now that i've bored you all with descriptions of the set-up, my problem...

I am having a heck of a time keeping the humidity up! As well as the temperature, but i'm hoping that will be fixed with the ceramic heater. I live in Alberta, Canada and we get some fierce winters here with temps dropping to an average of -20 once we get into December. Right now, the humidity in the tank isn't getting much past 60, except for when i spray it, where it sometimes hits the required 90 and will stay there for a few minutes before dropping back down. I have put some beaked moss on top of the jungle bed substrate in the hopes that might help, but it's not done much other than provide a nice (hopefully comfy) place for Rembrandt to burrow. Does anyone know if beaked moss is a sufficient sphagnum moss alternative? I can't find sphagnum moss here ANYWHERE and the websites i order things through don't currently have it either. Can anyone recommend anything moss-wise?

Is there anything anyone can suggest that might help with the humidity? We've been soaking him in warm water daily for about 10 minutes - is this okay? Could we even do it more than once a day? I was worried yesterday because there seemed to be some kind of white substance around his mouth that disappear when i misted him/her, and then when i soaked him he took a big long gulp from the bowl. But there's lots of water available in the tub...

I'm looking into buying the exo terra monsoon system http://www.petsandponds.com/en/reptile-supplies/c219173/p17631783.html in the hopes that that will help with the humidity over Winter, but until that arrives i'm going to worry myself something rotten! :( Does anyone know anything about this system, if it would be good or if there's something better? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Sorry for the long ramble..... :rolleyes:
 

Madkins007

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I'm in Omaha and struggled for a while with humidity as well. Go ahead with the soaks- you may even want to add a little salt to the water to help maintain the right balance (there is an article about that here: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-Soaking-and-rehydration-benefit-and-a-recipe#axzz1ZrCwaF5P )

A couple typical solutions are to cover the habitat, or to mist like crazy, and both have pros and cons.

MY solution is a bit unusual but has worked very well for me. I bought some heat rope ( http://www.bigappleherp.com/Big-Apple-Flexible-Heat-Ropes ) and installed them as directed. Covered them with about 2-3" of cypress (although other things work as well), and then just pour water in it every day. In my habitat, I can see the water level at the bottom and I just keep it so it is about 1/2 way wet.

What happens is that the ropes heat to about 90 or so and heat the water, which rises as warm vapor, adding heat and humidity. The tank is about 80% covered, which traps some of the humid air and slows the evaporation rate a bit. A ceramic heat lamp and a UVB bulb and that is about it.

The benefits to the system are:
- Works without fussing, especially if you add a thermostatic heat controller for the ropes.
- Works 24/7 with even heat and humidity unless I forget to add water.
- The warm, humid air is always rising past the animals. In many other options, it has to reach down to them and stay but the natural tendency of warm air is to rise.
- The top layer of the substrate is dry or only slightly damp, although this will depend largely on what kind of substrate you use.

The disadvantages are:
- The ropes do not last a long time- only about 6-12 months
- The warm, moist water level theoretically can grow a lot of mold and mildew, although leaving the top open seems to prevent this. I also change out the substrate about once in the winter, and again at the end of the season.
- You need to make sure that whatever the ropes are touching can tolerate the constant heat. They will easily warp many kinds of plastic, but you can do things like add a thin layer of sand to prevent this.
 

DixieParadise

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Wow Mark, thanks.... I have been spraying the heck out of my indoor enclosure and it seems like you have come up with an easier solution with the heat ropes.

I am going to get a few and see what happens for me. It is getting to be that time when the tortoises have to come inside for the night...I think this might be the key to the solution, I was looking for as well. I wasn't ready to install the humidity fogger.
 

Tnewton

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Yep, Marks the man. What I do is use half sphagnum moss and half cypress. I place the moss in the warm side and dump water in and mix it up so its nice and damp. I then place the cypress im the cooler side and mist it down once daily. I have a MVB over my warm side so it dries pretty quickly, I just add more water. Seems to work great and all my torts love the warm wet moss so much they never leave the warm side :)
 

Redstrike

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My substrate setup is similar to Mark's, I used the bioactive substrate he outlines in his website (Tortoise Library - it's in his signature). I'm also in upstate NY and with Fall/Winter approaching, ambient humidity is tanking! I decided to invest a bit and closed off the enclosure with plexiglass. Between the substrate and the glass, I have 80% humidity almost constantly. Here are the pics of my enclosure:

http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-Final-Enclosure-for-2-CH-Redfoots#axzz1ZvV4rk98
 

Redlance

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Oct 3, 2011
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Canada
Thank you all so much for your help!! :)

Mark - I'm at your website constantly! I have been misting like crazy, but even then the humidity only lasts a little while. I think the next step will be to maybe take some plexiglass and cover the enclosure, leaving a hole for the heat lamp. The heat rope is a great idea though! I'll definitely be trying that if the plexiglass doesn't do the job. Also, thank you for the salt water recipe, i'll definitely be adding that to the daily regime!

Tnewton - If i may ask; how much water do you usually pour onto the moss? I'm kind of really nervous about shell rot and not making the enclosure TOO damp. :-s But that sounds like a good idea too. If only i can find somewhere near where i live that sells sphagnum moss! It's kind of becoming a nightmare to find.

Redstrike - I took a look at your enclosure pics; thank you!!
 
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