SUGGESTION for Setting Up a Baby Habitat

Yvonne G

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There is more than one "right" way to set up a tortoise habitat. Whatever works for you, and provides what the baby needs, that's the "right" way for you. This is how I set up my baby habitats.

I start with a plastic Rubbermaid tub, some small sized Orchid Bark, a Zoo Med Power Sun Mercury Vapor Bulb, a rough piece of flat rock or slate for a feeding station, bell-shaped light with a ceramic base, a timer, a Zoo Med light stand, a hiding place and a plug with multiple outlets (can't remember what it's called).

Suggestion a.jpg



I use plants still in their pots, and I add them first so the pot is sitting on the bare floor of the tub. Then I add the substrate. For babies, I only use about an inch and a half to two inches on the floor of the tub. Then I pour a whole pitcher full of water into the substrate.

suggestion b.jpg


Next I stir it up with my hand to get it wet clear through. If it is very dry, it sometimes takes quite a bit of stirring to get it wet.



suggestion c.jpg

Now you're ready to add your waterer, feeder and the babies:


suggestion d.jpg

The light you buy comes with a suggested height to hang it. This one is on an adjustable stand (Love the Zoo Med light stand!!!), and I'm starting out at 12" above the back of the tortoise. I sometimes stuff the hiding place with moist sphagnum moss. And for sure I'll be covering this whole habitat with foil to keep the cold house air out and the warm, moist air in.
 

the_newzie

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And for sure I'll be covering this whole habitat with foil to keep the cold house air out and the warm, moist air in.
Thanks so much for posting! When you talk about covering the whole habitat with foil (and I'm sorry for the ignorance of this question), I assume the foil won't block the light? I'm just asking as I've always felt the indoor set up I have is suffering from being so open on the top, and I just want to know how much of the top you recommend covering with foil? If it wouldn't be too much to ask (and I apologize if it is), but could you post a picture with the foil in place so I (and other newbies) could see the final product so we can try to imitate your method?
 

AmordeAbba

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Omg than you so much for this. I was panicking about the one I found yesterday in my yard. I really don't have a lot of money to spend so this sounds better for my baby than trying to get a huge tank!
 

TortMomma

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Awesome job demonstrating this. Having a visual is always nice when explaining the set up and now we have something to refer new owners too.
Where would be a good place to find safe plants (organic) for my enclosure? Id like to get some spider plants for enclosures.
 

Yvonne G

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I got the idea from a persistent new comer to the Forum who kept asking and asking and finally asked if we could post pictures of brands, etc.
 

the_newzie

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And for sure I'll be covering this whole habitat with foil to keep the cold house air out and the warm, moist air in.
In your experience, what is a good temp range for desert torts while indoors? I have a few thermometers in Steve's enclosure now, but I am getting a point and shoot temp gun this evening and would like to know what temps you try to maintain. I've read some threads and just want to make sure the temp ranges I'm getting are good for DTs too (found a lot of threads for RF, Leopards, Russians, Etc... Info I've been reading says basking about 100 with a place in the 80s for him to cool off and 75 and above for nighttime). Subsequent question, is the nighttime temp ambient air in the enclosure or should I be taking that reading inside the burrow? Thanks!
 

Yvonne G

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In your experience, what is a good temp range for desert torts while indoors? I have a few thermometers in Steve's enclosure now, but I am getting a point and shoot temp gun this evening and would like to know what temps you try to maintain. I've read some threads and just want to make sure the temp ranges I'm getting are good for DTs too (found a lot of threads for RF, Leopards, Russians, Etc... Info I've been reading says basking about 100 with a place in the 80s for him to cool off and 75 and above for nighttime). Subsequent question, is the nighttime temp ambient air in the enclosure or should I be taking that reading inside the burrow? Thanks!
I'm not a good one to ask this question. I don't monitor temperatures. I put on the light and if the tortoises are active and are eating, I assume it's ok.
 

rhondak

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Yvonne, were did you buy your big bag of orchid bark?
Thatpetplace.com is a good place to order the bark online. I buy the 3 pack of bricks and you just mix it with water before putting it in the enclosire. It is so much cheaper than buying them at our local pet store.
 

terryo

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That was a great post Yvonne. I do about the same except since I have every size tank all over my house I use a glass tank.
 

el_ote

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thanks for the write up! very informative. when you say you mix a pitcher in the rubbermaid tub, how moist do you try to make it? is there a meter, a rule of thumb? I was thinking of using top soil as in the care sheet, but do I need to add water as well? sorry for all the ?'s
edit:
what plants are suggested for a baby hermanns, planted as you did there?
 

Yvonne G

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I don't care if I've put in too much water. With the orchid bark, the lights dry out the top layer, so the babies aren't sitting in water, even though if you dig down, it's very wet underneath.

If you leave the plants in the pots, sitting the pots down on the bare floor of the habitat then piling up the substrate around the pot, it really doesn't matter what kind of plant you use, because the babies can't reach the plant to eat it. In the past I have used sansevieria, wandering jew, spider plant, jade plant, haworthia, African violets, violas, pansies, hosta...there are many, many plants that you can use.
 

Amanda81

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There is more than one "right" way to set up a tortoise habitat. Whatever works for you, and provides what the baby needs, that's the "right" way for you. This is how I set up my baby habitats.

I start with a plastic Rubbermaid tub, some small sized Orchid Bark, a Zoo Med Power Sun Mercury Vapor Bulb, a rough piece of flat rock or slate for a feeding station, bell-shaped light with a ceramic base, a timer, a Zoo Med light stand, a hiding place and a plug with multiple outlets (can't remember what it's called).

View attachment 104657



I use plants still in their pots, and I add them first so the pot is sitting on the bare floor of the tub. Then I add the substrate. For babies, I only use about an inch and a half to two inches on the floor of the tub. Then I pour a whole pitcher full of water into the substrate.

View attachment 104658


Next I stir it up with my hand to get it wet clear through. If it is very dry, it sometimes takes quite a bit of stirring to get it wet.



View attachment 104659

Now you're ready to add your waterer, feeder and the babies:


View attachment 104660

The light you buy comes with a suggested height to hang it. This one is on an adjustable stand (Love the Zoo Med light stand!!!), and I'm starting out at 12" above the back of the tortoise. I sometimes stuff the hiding place with moist sphagnum moss. And for sure I'll be covering this whole habitat with foil to keep the cold house air out and the warm, moist air in.
Do u use any type of heat source at night? Like a CHE or something? I usually keep my cool side around 80-82 and I think my temps would drop low at night without a heat source.
 

Yvonne G

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Yes, I'm sorry...I should have mentioned that. I have two light fixtures. One holds the day light and the other holds a 60 watt black incandescent bulb. Some folks don't like using red or black bulbs, but I've been using them for years and years and have never had a tortoise get up at night because he thought it was day. If you don't want to use a black bulb you can use a CHE instead.
 

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