Tortoise Senpai Input Requested

Joppin

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I recently bought a Hermann's Tortoise which I have named Nobunaga and the pet store staff gave me... well... not internet advice. Having read up a little online I have done my best to modify the enclosure.

Some people say a vivarium is a no-go and that a tortoise table must be used instead, while some say a vivarium is fine. The pet store sold me a vivarium so that is what I have to work with. The top is open, save for the mesh lid. The windows are set at a glance to allow for increased air flow. My intention is for Nobunaga to spend his youngster days in the vivarium and to make a tortoise table when he outgrows it.

Pet store person said clear windows were fine. Internet said, hell no. Although older posts I found said they had no problems with pacing. I noticed Nobunaga would try and climb/get through on the sides where there is surface outside so I blocked the window with tape, which just so happened to be reflective... Which is why in the sun side I have a wooden board and some stones as I noticed Nobunaga would still try to get through. After the wood was put in place he checked it out and quickly lost interest in climbing out.
The front is still see-through. I considered blocking view here as well, however, there is a high drop just outside and Nobunaga seems to show no intention of sky-diving. Have not noticed any pacing or climbing in the front so have left it see-through, mainly for my viewing pleasure.

Water bowl is buried to allow for easier access/exits.

Food is put on a stone as I read somewhere that the hard surface helped trim the beak. Cuttlefish bone is readily available, though it seems Nobunaga has lost interest in it. When first put in the enclosure he would nibble quite happily on it but now seems to have stopped.

Food variety consists of: Dandelion, Clover, Ecological store bought greens, baby carrot once a week. Sprinkled with EXO TERRA MULTI VITAMIN. Any advice on how often I should sprinkle this (if at all) is welcome. At the moment i do it everyday. Have considered sprinkling calcium as well since Nobunaga lost interest in the cuttlefish.

As you can see in the pictures I only have the basking light in the corner with a bulb the store said covered everything the tortoise would need.

I've read that you need a UVB strip light across the entirety of the enclosure, is this necessary?

Any advice and critique is welcome. It is my intention to give Nobunaga the best life a captive tortoise can have so anything I can do to improve his life quality is appreciated. Many hugs and thanks in advance.

Picture of Nobunaga added for flair. Though wether Nobunaga is indeed male or female remains to be seen.
 

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Tom

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There is a lot of bad care advice and old myth circulating around about tortoise care. It can be difficult to sort through it all.

You do need a source of UV, either from indoor HO tubes or from direct sunshine periodically. It is NOT necessary to have UV running all day every day.

In your enclosure I would swap out the water bowl and replace it with a terra cotta saucer. Your is too deep and the sides too difficult to navigate. Use a second terra cotta saucer sunk into the substrate for the food. Put a flat basking rock directly under the basking bulb, and then firmly hand pack that coir.

I've put all the correct info here in one place to make it easier:

 

TeamZissou

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Food variety consists of: Dandelion, Clover, Ecological store bought greens, baby carrot once a week. Sprinkled with EXO TERRA MULTI VITAMIN. Any advice on how often I should sprinkle this (if at all) is welcome. At the moment i do it everyday. Have considered sprinkling calcium as well since Nobunaga lost interest in the cuttlefish.

I would avoid using the Exo Terra vitamin powder for your tortoise. It seems that there is a lot of Vitamin A added to this supplement. Tortoises do not need extra vitamin A supplementation since their food is loaded with it. Too much can actually cause harm in the form of severe skin peeling. The best vitamin for tortoises is Rep Cal Herptivite which does not contain any extra vitamin A. I do not know if you can get it in Sweden, you'd have to see. In terms of frequency, rubbing a small amount of the supplement into the leaves of the food twice a week is sufficient.


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

Joppin

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Location (City and/or State)
Kävlinge
I would avoid using the Exo Terra vitamin powder for your tortoise. It seems that there is a lot of Vitamin A added to this supplement. Tortoises do not need extra vitamin A supplementation since their food is loaded with it. Too much can actually cause harm in the form of severe skin peeling. The best vitamin for tortoises is Rep Cal Herptivite which does not contain any extra vitamin A. I do not know if you can get it in Sweden, you'd have to see. In terms of frequency, rubbing a small amount of the supplement into the leaves of the food twice a week is sufficient.


https://www.amazon.com/dp/HERPTIVITE/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
The amazon link sends me to a 404 not found page. But I looked around for Rep Cal Herptivite and can't seem to find it in Sweden, only option is to order it all the way from over-seas. Not impossible, but would rather have a local option.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find any supplement without vitamin A in swedish online shops.
I found this: https://www.arkenzoo.se/jbl-tortoise-sun-terra-vitamiini-10-ml?58693. Which is supposed to be specifically for tortoises but it still contains vitamin A. (the site is in swedish but you can easily see the contents if you click on "Produktbeskrivning". Would you say this is still a no go?

I now realize I have been giving waaaay too much supplement. I only hope I havan't caused any lasting damage.
Thank you so much for you reply and very helpful advice.
 

Joppin

New Member
Joined
May 25, 2021
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
Kävlinge
There is a lot of bad care advice and old myth circulating around about tortoise care. It can be difficult to sort through it all.

You do need a source of UV, either from indoor HO tubes or from direct sunshine periodically. It is NOT necessary to have UV running all day every day.

In your enclosure I would swap out the water bowl and replace it with a terra cotta saucer. Your is too deep and the sides too difficult to navigate. Use a second terra cotta saucer sunk into the substrate for the food. Put a flat basking rock directly under the basking bulb, and then firmly hand pack that coir.

I've put all the correct info here in one place to make it easier:

This certainly belongs to "things I wish I had read before I bought a tortoise". I admit I was nowhere near prepared enough before I bought it.

I'm gonna head out and buy some terracotta saucers in the weekend.

The lamp I currently have in the enclosure is this:
http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/solar_glo.php

Just to make sure, this is not enough? It supposedly has UV in it as well but of course it doesn't cover the entire enclosure so I'm thinking of checking the pet store for a UVB strip light that covers the rest of the enclosure.

I'm also going to invest in some measuring equipment for temperature, UV and humidity.

Thank you for your advice and especially for your linked post. Will help me fix alot of errors.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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This certainly belongs to "things I wish I had read before I bought a tortoise". I admit I was nowhere near prepared enough before I bought it.

I'm gonna head out and buy some terracotta saucers in the weekend.

The lamp I currently have in the enclosure is this:
http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/solar_glo.php

Just to make sure, this is not enough? It supposedly has UV in it as well but of course it doesn't cover the entire enclosure so I'm thinking of checking the pet store for a UVB strip light that covers the rest of the enclosure.

I'm also going to invest in some measuring equipment for temperature, UV and humidity.

Thank you for your advice and especially for your linked post. Will help me fix alot of errors.
The bulb you linked is a mercury vapor bulb. I don't recommend those for a lot of reasons. Heat should be supplied by regular flood bulbs, and UV should come from the sun, or from Arcadia HO tubes.
 

Joppin

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Kävlinge
The bulb you linked is a mercury vapor bulb. I don't recommend those for a lot of reasons. Heat should be supplied by regular flood bulbs, and UV should come from the sun, or from Arcadia HO tubes.
Do you mean something like this: https://www.lamportillallt.se/sv/lampform/klotglob/glodlampa-normal-935lm-e27-75w.html.

Again in swedish but all info should be there. I'm having trouble finding regular incandescenet flood bulbs. Atleast if the google translation is correct. Even bauhaus (hardware store) only seem to have LED bulbs.
 

Tom

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Do you mean something like this: https://www.lamportillallt.se/sv/lampform/klotglob/glodlampa-normal-935lm-e27-75w.html.

Again in swedish but all info should be there. I'm having trouble finding regular incandescenet flood bulbs. Atleast if the google translation is correct. Even bauhaus (hardware store) only seem to have LED bulbs.
We are all having trouble finding the bulbs we need. The round type can work, but it would need to be "frosted".

Here is the flood type:
85678_50198e29217d7_original.jpg
 

Joppin

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TeamZissou

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Albuquerque, NM
The amazon link sends me to a 404 not found page. But I looked around for Rep Cal Herptivite and can't seem to find it in Sweden, only option is to order it all the way from over-seas. Not impossible, but would rather have a local option.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find any supplement without vitamin A in swedish online shops.
I found this: https://www.arkenzoo.se/jbl-tortoise-sun-terra-vitamiini-10-ml?58693. Which is supposed to be specifically for tortoises but it still contains vitamin A. (the site is in swedish but you can easily see the contents if you click on "Produktbeskrivning". Would you say this is still a no go?

I now realize I have been giving waaaay too much supplement. I only hope I havan't caused any lasting damage.
Thank you so much for you reply and very helpful advice.

Sorry for the broken link. Not sure what happened. I also found one site that ships to Sweden as you said (link). The price was about $30 shipped, about double what it costs here in the US, though still not crazy.

Looking at the amount of vitamin A in the JBL Tortoise Sun Terra product, the good news is that it's much lower than what is typically found in US reptile vitamin products that have vitamin A. For reference, some of the most damaging products are made by a company called Repashy and contain 100,000 to 200,000 IU/lb of vitamin A. There was a hatchling Leopard tortoise on a few months ago that had been fed lots of the stuff and had some pretty painful looking skin peeling.

Fluker's vitamins have 50,000 IU/lb, and this is similar to the Exo Terra vitamins that you were using, which has about 41,000 IU/lb. Some people have used vitamins with these levels, but it still seems a bit risky. The good news is that vitamin problems can take a while to accumulate, so stopping the Exo Terra will let your tortoise process the vitamin A and you can switch to a different product.

The vitamin A content of the JBL is a much more reasonable 270 IU/lb. On the other hand, it's a liquid, so it's possible that the tortoise could consume more of the vitamin during a feeding, but probably not as high as the damaging Repashy supplements. Overall, the JBL product would probably carry a lot less risk due to much lower vitamin A added compared to products we normally see in the US.

Personally I would just buy the Herptivite. A single container would probably last a year for your little Hermann's.
 

Tom

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Neither are good. No infrared or other colored bulbs. You need white light for tortoises basking lamps. The other bulb is a spot bulb. Those focus too much carapace desiccating heat into too small an area and they cause pyramiding. Both of those are also 150 watts, which is more than double what you should need for most enclosures.

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
 

Joppin

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Location (City and/or State)
Kävlinge
Neither are good. No infrared or other colored bulbs. You need white light for tortoises basking lamps. The other bulb is a spot bulb. Those focus too much carapace desiccating heat into too small an area and they cause pyramiding. Both of those are also 150 watts, which is more than double what you should need for most enclosures.

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
Maybe I shoud read before I link *facepalm*. I didn't even notice it said spot and just thought it looked like your picture.

https://www.lamportillallt.se/sv/energityp/glodlampor/lagvoltslampa-matt-e27-75w-12v.html This one looks like it's a not clear lamp though it doesn't say frosted but matte. Would this do? Having trouble finding flood lamps online. Only ones I found on that site are colored. Will try going to a hardware store to see if I have better luck in a physical store than online. But if not, this looks like the only choice.

I will be getting a thermometer in the weekend and will look into making sure the temperature is high enough during the day and will also get something to check the humidity. At night the temperature should be around 20C.

In regards to UV the issue I have in Sweden is temperature. I work nights so I can really only have the tortoise outside in the morning. Currently it's about 10-15C outside in the morning. But I found this site: https://www.cyberzoo.se/sv/articles/302/uvb-belysning. Which seems to have alot of options regarding UV lights. So if I don't find any good options in my local physical store I was going to order an appropriate one from here.

Thank you so much for guiding me through all this. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate it.
 

Joppin

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Kävlinge
Sorry for the broken link. Not sure what happened. I also found one site that ships to Sweden as you said (link). The price was about $30 shipped, about double what it costs here in the US, though still not crazy.

Looking at the amount of vitamin A in the JBL Tortoise Sun Terra product, the good news is that it's much lower than what is typically found in US reptile vitamin products that have vitamin A. For reference, some of the most damaging products are made by a company called Repashy and contain 100,000 to 200,000 IU/lb of vitamin A. There was a hatchling Leopard tortoise on a few months ago that had been fed lots of the stuff and had some pretty painful looking skin peeling.

Fluker's vitamins have 50,000 IU/lb, and this is similar to the Exo Terra vitamins that you were using, which has about 41,000 IU/lb. Some people have used vitamins with these levels, but it still seems a bit risky. The good news is that vitamin problems can take a while to accumulate, so stopping the Exo Terra will let your tortoise process the vitamin A and you can switch to a different product.

The vitamin A content of the JBL is a much more reasonable 270 IU/lb. On the other hand, it's a liquid, so it's possible that the tortoise could consume more of the vitamin during a feeding, but probably not as high as the damaging Repashy supplements. Overall, the JBL product would probably carry a lot less risk due to much lower vitamin A added compared to products we normally see in the US.

Personally I would just buy the Herptivite. A single container would probably last a year for your little Hermann's.
Thank you very much for the link. I'll just buy the herptivite. Since it will last for so long the price isn't that bad. And nothing but the best for my tortoise. Money be damned.
 

Tom

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Maybe I shoud read before I link *facepalm*. I didn't even notice it said spot and just thought it looked like your picture.

https://www.lamportillallt.se/sv/energityp/glodlampor/lagvoltslampa-matt-e27-75w-12v.html This one looks like it's a not clear lamp though it doesn't say frosted but matte. Would this do? Having trouble finding flood lamps online. Only ones I found on that site are colored. Will try going to a hardware store to see if I have better luck in a physical store than online. But if not, this looks like the only choice.

I will be getting a thermometer in the weekend and will look into making sure the temperature is high enough during the day and will also get something to check the humidity. At night the temperature should be around 20C.

In regards to UV the issue I have in Sweden is temperature. I work nights so I can really only have the tortoise outside in the morning. Currently it's about 10-15C outside in the morning. But I found this site: https://www.cyberzoo.se/sv/articles/302/uvb-belysning. Which seems to have alot of options regarding UV lights. So if I don't find any good options in my local physical store I was going to order an appropriate one from here.

Thank you so much for guiding me through all this. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate it.
The linked bulb is a 12 volt specialty bulb, like for automotive use. I don't know if Sweden runs on 110 or 220 like the UK, but I know its not 12.

For indoor UV, Arcadia 12% HO tubes are the best. I know they are available in most of Europe.
 

Joppin

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The linked bulb is a 12 volt specialty bulb, like for automotive use. I don't know if Sweden runs on 110 or 220 like the UK, but I know its not 12.

For indoor UV, Arcadia 12% HO tubes are the best. I know they are available in most of Europe.
Yes, I see what I did there. What I did was, I didn't read... again...

This is what I should've linked: https://www.lamportillallt.se/sv/la...skakstark-glodlampa-normal-530lm-e27-60w.html

There is also one with 100W. If this bulb is the right one to use, would you recommend 60W or 100W?

In regards to the Arcadia, do you mean something like this: https://www.cyberzoo.se/sv/articles/2.302.18588/arcadia-pro-t5-kit-12-uvb-39-w-87-cm?
 
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Tom

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Yes, I see what I did there. What I did was, I didn't read... again...

This is what I should've linked: https://www.lamportillallt.se/sv/la...skakstark-glodlampa-normal-530lm-e27-60w.html

There is also one with 100W. If this bulb is the right one to use, would you recommend 60W or 100W?

In regards to the Arcadia, do you mean something like this: https://www.cyberzoo.se/sv/articles/2.302.18588/arcadia-pro-t5-kit-12-uvb-39-w-87-cm?
That one will work if you use it in a ceramic based fixture with a wide dome, like this:

I like to use as low wattage as possible, but only your thermometer can tell you which one is right for your enclosure.
 

Joppin

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That one will work if you use it in a ceramic based fixture with a wide dome, like this:

I like to use as low wattage as possible, but only your thermometer can tell you which one is right for your enclosure.
So not the one I'm currently using: http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/reptile_dome.php. The narrow one.

Something like this: https://www.cyberzoo.se/sv/articles/2.300.6791/zoo-med-deluxe-porcelain-brooder-lamp-25-cm-max-200w?

And the Arcadia is correct? I edited my post so don't know if you missed it. Google said the T5 gave more UV so I assume that one is better than the T8?
 

Joppin

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New water and feeding bowl. The water bowl seems too small though. Is it deep enough?
I put a second similar water bowl up on the "hill" away from the heat, just in case the water near the heat source dissipates too much.

I have a deeper bowl that is too deep, but I can file it down if the new one is too shallow.
 

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TeamZissou

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https://www.cyberzoo.se/sv/articles/2.303.19092/arcadia-solar-basking-floodlight-75-w

Is this light any good? Or is the normal one linked before better?

The normal incandescent bulb is better. Tortoises don't really need extra UVA and it can contribute to pyramiding of the shell.

New water and feeding bowl. The water bowl seems too small though. Is it deep enough?
I put a second similar water bowl up on the "hill" away from the heat, just in case the water near the heat source dissipates too much.

I have a deeper bowl that is too deep, but I can file it down if the new one is too shallow.

The saucer in the picture is great. You don't want it too deep in case the tortoise flips in the water.
So not the one I'm currently using: http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/reptile_dome.php. The narrow one.

Something like this: https://www.cyberzoo.se/sv/articles/2.300.6791/zoo-med-deluxe-porcelain-brooder-lamp-25-cm-max-200w?

And the Arcadia is correct? I edited my post so don't know if you missed it. Google said the T5 gave more UV so I assume that one is better than the T8?

Yes it's generally better to use a T5 bulb. The only other consideration is that the 12% T5 Arcadia bulb will need to be mounted approximately 55 cm above the substrate, so I do not know if you have the room for this.
 
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