SUGGESTION for Setting Up a Baby Habitat

txturtledude

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Mar 9, 2014
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DFW Area, Texas
I do a cheap mixing tub from Home Depot, a 4’x2’ Ogrow Mini Greenhouse to enclose the chamber, a homemade workbench, a CHE, a 45 watt incandescent flood bulb, a 10” UVB Reptisun tube bulb, a thermostat, a timer, a plastic bowl for a humid hide, a small flower pot base for a water bowl, and a small tile for an eating dish. Pretty low cost setup and works great...

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...and this guy really seems to like it.

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Brockazoid

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Hesperia ca
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).

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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.

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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.



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


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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.
How do you cover it with foil without blocking the light? The reason I ask is cause I'd like to do the same.do u have a picture of what it looks like when you do cover it?
 

Maria Ohlson

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Jul 9, 2016
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Sweden
Perfect! :)
I always feel sorry for all the baby Hermanns that have to sit in the open in an empty enclosure, they are supposed to live hidden between plants. :(
Yes all my hatchlings always hide in the plants or dig holes under the grass. The plants also give a good humidity for them and good foodsource so they can graze when they want. I grow plants on the side of their box and replace plants if they die or get eaten :)
 

Yvonne G

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Today I set up another indoor enclosure. My tortoise partner, Will, loaned me one of his Vision cages that he's not using at the moment, so that means I can move my "keeper" from the latest batch of baby leopards into the Vision cage and upgrade my YF baby into a slightly larger space. The Vision cage:

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I had to move the YFs enclosure off that cabinet next to the washer to make room for the Vision cage (and I see that it's not sitting straight on the cabinet. That deeply offends my sense of symmetry!!!! I must fix that right away!!! As you can see, now the YF is sitting on the washer and I have several loads of washing to do, so that has to go mighty quickly.

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I broke down the baby leopard's enclosure and got it off the kitchen table, and started setting up a new, bigger space for the YF. I really like my homemade light stand. It's very stable because the "foot" is under the enclosure. :

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Then I've hung a UVB tube and a 25 watt CHE. I see (something I didn't realize at the time) that I've screwed the CHE into a regular Bakelite fixture. That needs to be mounted in a ceramic fixture. I'll change that out as soon as I'm finished here.
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Next I wrapped the back and sides with kitchen foil. You can use plastic film too.

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Next I cut a piece of plastic film to fit the front.

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You can make it long enough to tuck under the front of the enclosure to hold it closed tighter. Staple it to the wood cross piece, but be careful to not staple into your electric cords. To administer to the inside, you just fold the plastic over the top.

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This is the guy that's going to live in there. I hatched this YF from an egg and he was raised in the plastic covered tub you see up above sitting on my washing machine.

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This little Tuff Tub isn't big enough for a tortoise of this size, but he spends the summer outside.
 
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sarah.mandol

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Nov 18, 2012
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Is coconut coir okay for hatchlings? And at what day do you put them on substrate after incubation? Thanks!
 

Yvonne G

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I've always used small grade fir bark. It's less messy than coir. I leave them in the incubator until the yolk is fully absorbed, then they go right into an enclosure with substrate.
 

Domm

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Apr 9, 2020
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PA
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!
Is it ok if I completely close the lid on the rubbermaid at night? Will it restrict oxygen if its closed shut ?
 

dprince

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May 6, 2020
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Auburn, CA
I've always used small grade fir bark. It's less messy than coir. I leave them in the incubator until the yolk is fully absorbed, then they go right into an enclosure with substrate.
Hi Yvonne,

Where do you get your bark?
 

Yvonne G

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chewy.com sells it for around $16 a bag if you're just filling a smallish enclosure. If I need a larger amount I ask my local nursery to order it for me.
 

surfergirl

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Dec 20, 2015
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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.

This is the secret to great keepers. watching a tortoise's behavior tells us so much! After yrs of experience you probably have an incredible sense for all the correct conditions!
 

dalein

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Jul 8, 2020
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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.
I use black bulb too and have no problems. My baby sleeps all night, and never jump up thinking it's a day))). I have thermostatic device connected to the black lamp and when the temperature inside my terrarium drops lawer then my setting, the lamp turns on.
 
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