Sulcata with dark head

Kymberlyn

Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Ohio - Zone 6b
My little Zippy was a very healthy yellowish tan color a few weeks ago. The head has become very dark and today I see that the legs are beginning to get dark.

Is there a cause for alarm?

Background, I use full spectrum lighting 12 hours a day and a white heat lamp bulb for 12 hours (maintaining 80 degrees via a heater at night). The substrate is Plantation Soil. He moved into a larger home with new substrate about 2 weeks ago. It is the same manufacturer as the substrate in his older home. From handling I do not see that there is a dye of any sort in it.

Is he sunburnt? He's outside for about an hour a day but there is shade available if he wants to move out of the sun. He usually does move after about 30 minutes.
 

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Tom

The Dog Trainer
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54,477
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Substrate staining.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours 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. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. 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, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. 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. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In the UK, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12%. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
Problems with MVBs:
1. They run too hot for a closed chamber, which is what you should be using.
2. They cause too much carapace desiccation which causes pyramiding.
3. They are fragile and break easily.
4. They are temperamental sometimes and shut themselves off for 20 minutes at a time.
5. They are expensive.
6. Their UV output runs from one extreme to the other. Some produce way too much UV, and other produce none at all after two or three months.
 

Kymberlyn

Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Ohio - Zone 6b
Substrate staining.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours 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. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. 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, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. 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. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In the UK, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12%. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
Problems with MVBs:
1. They run too hot for a closed chamber, which is what you should be using.
2. They cause too much carapace desiccation which causes pyramiding.
3. They are fragile and break easily.
4. They are temperamental sometimes and shut themselves off for 20 minutes at a time.
5. They are expensive.
6. Their UV output runs from one extreme to the other. Some produce way too much UV, and other produce none at all after two or three months.
Thank you, Tom.
The price on the solar meter was a little high for me right now but I did find a cheap meter on Amazon. I'd like to know how my bulbs are working. (I use the same bulbs on parrots and monkeys.) I did not know that these devices were even available. Thanks for the information. I'll adjust light as needed although currently Zippy is outside every sunny day, I do want to be prepared with the good stuff before our seasons change.
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
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Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
4,422
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Thank you, Tom.
The price on the solar meter was a little high for me right now but I did find a cheap meter on Amazon. I'd like to know how my bulbs are working. (I use the same bulbs on parrots and monkeys.) I did not know that these devices were even available. Thanks for the information. I'll adjust light as needed although currently Zippy is outside every sunny day, I do want to be prepared with the good stuff before our seasons change.
Do not use the cheap meter you said you found on Amazon. It is better to guess than use one of those other meters. They will give totally false readings as far as the specific UVB reading we need to monitor for our tortoise. The solarmeter 6.5 is the only meter (under several thousand dollars) that will give a true reading for what we need.
 

Mrs.Jennifer

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
423
Location (City and/or State)
Norwich CT
Thank you, Tom.
The price on the solar meter was a little high for me right now but I did find a cheap meter on Amazon. I'd like to know how my bulbs are working. (I use the same bulbs on parrots and monkeys.) I did not know that these devices were even available. Thanks for the information. I'll adjust light as needed although currently Zippy is outside every sunny day, I do want to be prepared with the good stuff before our seasons change.
I too purchased an inexpensive meter only to find out that they don’t measure artificially produced UV. They are useless under a UV bulb.
 
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