UV light for Chaco

cafetortoni

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Hi, I previously wrote a thread because I found a lost chaco tortoise and I've been caring for it ever since. He had a little bit of mucus when we found him and he may have URTD. The vet decided that we do not let him brumate this year, as we need him to get fatter and we don't want to keep giving him antibiotics all the time. (for anyone interested he used to be 500 grams 2 months ago and he's 700 grams now). I live in a warm area with mild winters, and the tortoise is an indoor pet with access to a balcony, the vet told me to get a UV tube for him.

And this is the part I'm not sure about. In the notes she wrote "2700 to 3000 A°". Which can't possibly be right, I think. And anyway, no seller lists amp units. So because my vet isn't answering my messages, I'd like to ask if someone knows what should I get for the tort. I've read about MVB and such but we don't have these in my country. The available brands are Reptisun, Reptistar and Sylvania, and the two options are 5.0 UVB or 10.0 UVB. I'd like to do proper research when I have the time but right now I'm starting to panic because my tortoise is already preparing to brumate.

Since Chaco tortoises cover such an extensive area, I'm not sure about 10.0 UVB. Thoughts?
 

turtlesteve

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Sounds like he’s already doing much better. I agree with not letting him brumate yet. You will need to keep him warm and humid or he will sense the change of seasons and try to brumate anyways. If he is at least 60F at night and 75-80F in the day he should stay reasonably active. But, if you suspect or see any respiratory symptoms keep him warm, mid-80s day and night.

For UVB the 10.0 T5 tube bulbs (reptisun) are fine.

As with other species these have been misunderstood in the past and kept too dry in captivity. While they tolerate dryness, they thrive in warm humid conditions.

Good luck,
Steve
 

ZenHerper

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Be aware that uvb radiation will not prevent brumation...only ambient temperatures, day light length, and humidity mimicking summer conditions will keep him "awake".

Animals take cues from other sources (how the planet "feels" during winter when the hemisphere is tipped away from the sun). He may be sluggish and disinclined to eat. Be sure to soak him in warm water at least every other day to keep him hydrated and have tasty treats on hand if his appetite is poor (flowers work pretty well).
 

cafetortoni

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Thank you both!

The vet finally came through and I'm eyeing a few options. Today he got a nice soak (because he likes to poop in his hide and roll around in his filth).

the uvb lamp is for helping him with the vitamin D he will need now that cloudy days are coming. This should help with the frequent mucus we think. My house is pretty warm all year round thankfully and well, this is a subtropical zone so the available basking lamps would be overkill (or maybe I'm wrong! but everything is like 250 watts or above).

And I'll get him flowers to eat, sadly he doesn't consider things other than cucumber and zucchini to be food and he looks confused when I present him with new foods.
 

turtlesteve

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See if he will accept optunia cactus pads. It’s not ideal but healthier for him than cucumber and zucchini. You may have to chop and mix whatever he likes to eat with more healthy foods for a while.
 

Tom

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Does he have a basking bulb to warm up under?

Your tortoise isn't going to survive or remain healthy if you don't start getting him to eat the right foods. Zucchini and cucumber are like candy. Why would he eat healthy foods when you keep providing those favorites? Start with tiny tiny amount of the new stuff and mince it up into fine pieces. Then mix the pieces in with whatever the favorite foods are. There should be hardly any of the new stuff at first, and then gradually keep adding more and more. It will take time and patience. He may choose to eat light a few times during the process. Be sure to be adding small amounts of a vitamin and calcium supplements every few days too.

Read this for more detailed care info:
 

ZenHerper

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...

the uvb lamp is for helping him with the vitamin D he will need now that cloudy days are coming. This should help with the frequent mucus we think. ...

For good health, everything has to be in a very specific balance. Appropriate diet, proper temperatures for resting and basking (you have to measure and manage them, guessing never works), uvb radiation, ambient humidity. Read the care sheet @Tom linked. Chronic respiratory symptoms are a sign that the immune system is not working at optimal levels and that the sinuses do not have the right air humidity. If the daily diet is not right, the body cannot make and renew its cells and antibodies.

It is a bit of work to get everything going, but very rewarding in the end.
 

cafetortoni

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See if he will accept optunia cactus pads. It’s not ideal but healthier for him than cucumber and zucchini. You may have to chop and mix whatever he likes to eat with more healthy foods for a while.
These aren't as easy to come by as the fruit of the cactus and cacti don't do well where I live tbh.

Does he have a basking bulb to warm up under?

Your tortoise isn't going to survive or remain healthy if you don't start getting him to eat the right foods. Zucchini and cucumber are like candy. Why would he eat healthy foods when you keep providing those favorites?

So I'd just like to make it clear that I'm not feeding him an exclusive diet of cucumber and zucchini, I'm not crazy. I said that when I found him those were the only things he recognized as food. I've already been working with the vet on a diet for him and he's eating well, and because he always poops when we go to the vet, she can see his feces and tells me he has excellent gut health. He eats varied and we're working towards slipping more mazuri into the foods without him noticing.

He does not have a basking bulb yet (just in case, we still have extremely warm and sunny days), I'm trying to talk to the vet about this because all available options are way too strong and imported goods are hard to come by in my country. For example flood bulbs. I'd love to get some help with that, I haven't yet found one that is less than 100w


Chronic respiratory symptoms are a sign that the immune system is not working at optimal levels and that the sinuses do not have the right air humidity. If the daily diet is not right, the body cannot make and renew its cells and antibodies.

There might have been some confusion, but yes I've been working with the vet to get him the right setup. I'd just like to clear up that when we found him in a garden he already had a bit of mucus and apparently his past owners haven't fed him well which has led to him having a compromised shell. The vet did warn us that could lead to respiratory issues in the future. I trust my vet's opinion and the tortoise has been doing well, I'm just scrambling right now to get everything prepared so he doesn't brumate, as this wasn't in the plans until a few days ago.

Thank you all for your time!
 

Tom

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If the tortoise is outside during warm sunny weather, it doesn't need a basking bulb. If it is being housed inside, it does.

A 100 watt flood bulb should be fine. Just hang it at the correct height to get the correct basking temperature under it. Your thermometer will tell you when you have it right.
 

turtlesteve

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To be clear, any 75-100 watt incandescent bulb that is not a spotlight can be used for a basking lamp. You do not have to find one that is specifically made for reptiles. The UV he needs is provided separately by the T5 fluorescent.
 

cafetortoni

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To be clear, any 75-100 watt incandescent bulb that is not a spotlight can be used for a basking lamp. You do not have to find one that is specifically made for reptiles. The UV he needs is provided separately by the T5 fluorescent.

Yeah, I've tried to steer clear of petshops because they don't even have basking bulbs that aren't infrarred or are extremely expensive. I wonder if 80 cm is enough of a distance so that it's not too much for the tortoise with a 100w bulb. I'd rather spend more time and buy something that is just right instead of wasting money (they're pretty expensive over here) on something I can't use.

If worst comes to worst I'll have to shell out for a CHE I guess which are mad expensive

If the tortoise is outside during warm sunny weather, it doesn't need a basking bulb. If it is being housed inside, it does.

A 100 watt flood bulb should be fine. Just hang it at the correct height to get the correct basking temperature under it. Your thermometer will tell you when you have it right.

He has access outside now and that's the reason I wasn't getting one at first. Now that it's been decided not to let him brumate I'll be getting him a basking bulb, but with 100w I'm afraid the height I have available for his enclosure may not be enough of a distance. I have 80 cm of space, I don't know if that's enough. I still have some time to figure that out though, since it's still warm and sunny here.
 

Tom

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Yeah, I've tried to steer clear of petshops because they don't even have basking bulbs that aren't infrarred or are extremely expensive. I wonder if 80 cm is enough of a distance so that it's not too much for the tortoise with a 100w bulb. I'd rather spend more time and buy something that is just right instead of wasting money (they're pretty expensive over here) on something I can't use.

If worst comes to worst I'll have to shell out for a CHE I guess which are mad expensive



He has access outside now and that's the reason I wasn't getting one at first. Now that it's been decided not to let him brumate I'll be getting him a basking bulb, but with 100w I'm afraid the height I have available for his enclosure may not be enough of a distance. I have 80 cm of space, I don't know if that's enough. I still have some time to figure that out though, since it's still warm and sunny here.
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. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html Here in our climate, you shouldn't need indoor UV.
 
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