Some Newbie advice please..... - Reptile Forums

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2006, 03:21 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4
Default Some Newbie advice please.....

Hi Guys,

I'm a complete newbie here and complete newbie to owning my Hermans Tortoise - "Thor" In fact we've only known one and other for 48 hours now.

My tortoise home/setup is as follows: (as suggested by the pet store also)

* Glass fronted vivarium which is 24" x 17" x 12"
* Exo-Terra Heatwave Terrarium Substrate heater (desert - medium 10x11")
* Exo-Terra Sun Glo 75W Basking Spot Lamp
* Exo-Terra Repti Glo 2.0 15W Daylight Lamp (98 CRI 6700K)
* Wood Chip Substrate
* Java Wood Cave/Shelter
* Bogwood Ornament
* Water Dish
* Food Dish
* Exo-Terra Humidity Meter
* Thermometer

The Temperature in the Vivarium at day with Sun Glo Lamp on is 32-34C and at night with no lights but with heat mat still on goes down to 24C.

The Humidity stays fairly constant at aroung 54%

In terms of food I have:

* Pretty pets Small Tortoise Food
* Nutrobal
* Tortoise Calcium Carbonate Powder
* Fresh Greens
* Grated Carrots
* Cheery Tomatoes

I have a Hermans Tortoise which according to it's paper work was a 2005 hatchling. I am not sure of it's sex as pet store owner said it was too young to identify accurately.

My newbie questions are:

1) Are the temperatures OK at 32-34C day time and 24C Night time?

2) Is it correct to leave the heat mat on all the time?

3) The Tortoise hasn't eaten much since bringing him back from the store. I assume this is due to his change in surroundings and gettting used to his new home but is there anything I can do to help?

4) Is there anything in the setup I have mentioned that is obvioulsy wrong to an experienced Tortoise keeper.

Will try to add a photo of my setup later tonight.

Once again any help and advice greatly received.

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2006, 05:55 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 121

The temperature dirctly under the spotlight should be between 30 and 40 degrees c but the most important thing is to have a temp gradient: ie my tort table is 37 under my spot light and about 18 at the other end. Without a gradient the tort will die very quickly.

Heat mats should never be used as they can burn tortoises very bad.
I have 2 in the spare room i no longer need. Please take them out as you dont need them, the spot light is enuf on the day and the natural house temps are enuf on a night.

If you are serious about keeping the tort and you are humble enough to take good advice then i advise you sell your viv and build a tort table or convert an old bookcase/ underbed storage tub into a tort table. Torts should also be fed freshly picked weeds out of the garden like dandelion leaves and flowers, chickweed, dead nettle and plants like pertunias. Dont ever feed tortoise food as it is full of protein and will cause pyramidding.

Torts should outlive humans by far but with your current setup i predict a 10 year painful lifesan for your tortoise.

I bought a leopard when i first got into torts and i got pretty much the same setup as yourself but as soon as i got the good advice i changed my setup and my torts appear much healthier and more active.
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Old 11-08-2006, 07:30 PM
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Hi sensibul1 and welcome to the forum, you will get plenty advice reference this post.

I would say you have had some poor advice from the shop reference your current set up.

At the min I am awaiting my next tort table which is being built (4ftx2ft), but I currently have mine in a temporary table which is basically a large draw about 3 ft by 2 ft I am using a 60w spot bulb and a 24" UVB Repti Glo 8% tube with Starter, to be honest that is all you need bar the substrate (I use Auboise) a hide and food and water bowls. Although mine is only temporary it is actually ideal at the moment and much better than a viv. Once my new tort table is sorted I will then use the draw as a quarintine for my next tort.

Just take onboard the advice given by the others, I am sure TT and Sue will offer advice and you will find that a tort table will work out cheaper than the viv you are currently using.

The big one for me on this one though is dont use the heat mat with a tort especially without a thermostat heatmats will heat over 100f and it could end up burning the tort.

Also take some pics and get them posted.

Member 687
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Old 11-08-2006, 07:53 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 121

i forgot to mention that the reptiglo 2.0 gives very small amount of uv and will stop giving this out in about 6 months then they need replacing. I would advise you to switch to a trex 100 watt flood or another combined uv heat bulb to save money and to enhance uv given to ur tort.
Whilst using the 2.0 i would lower it to about 3 inches over your tort as the uv light doesnt travel very far
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Old 11-08-2006, 07:58 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4

Wow, Firstly thanks for the speedy and more so Important advice.

I have taken the heat mat out now - It was attached to a ceramic floor tile (as per pet shops instruction) It was also Very Hot!

Thor has only eaten dandelions and cherry tomatoes so far and hasn't shown any interest what so ever in the Pretty Pets "Tortoise food" thankfully. That is now also binned.

I will look into constructing a tortoise table in the next few days. I'm a little concerend about our cat and an open top box though, so will need to investigate further.

I honestly can't believe that a reptlie center/pet store can give such poor advice! The shop in question has a great number of different varieties of torst in stock all of which are in vivarium set ups the same as the one I have purchased - with MULTIPLE heat mats in the some of the larger vivs!
I think I may pay them a visit tomorrow and share some of your advice.

Apart from these terribly misguided mistakes, are the light bulbs etc I have mentioned at least the correct ones for Thors well being?

I will try to post some pics of Thor later tonight - if I can figure out how to post pictures that is.

Once again THANKs very much for the speedy responses. You've been more than helpful.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2006, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4

a poor quality pic?
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2006, 08:49 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 121

if u are concerned about your cat you could put mesh over the top of your table, my table is just a wooden box 4ft by4ft made from wood bought and cut at bnq and then screwed together. Your lights are ok as long as you stick to the guidelines above but once your reptiglo is worn out i would look into getting a trex uv/heat bulb.

Pet shops usually dont have the torts long enough to see the long term effects of heat mats vivs and tort pellets, in fact there probably isnt many pet shops around that have been open longer than 15 years and a tort lives about 100 on average.

here is a pic of a sulcata cared for properly followed by one cared for according to pet shop instructions.
The bottom one has metabolic bone desease and cannot walk properly and probably will die soon. The lumps are pyrammidding due to tort pellets and overfeeding, this causes the tort to become to heavy to walk, like obesity in ppl but irreversible.

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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 11-08-2006, 10:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 3,993

If you have had him so recently I suggest you go back to the shop for a full refund on everything they sold you fopr him especially teh vivarium, heatr mat and pelletted foods. It's purely profit for them and will kill your tortoise eventually. Would you like to post the name and address of teh shop sothat they can be encouraged to give out better advice in the future?
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Old 12-08-2006, 12:28 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 4

The pictures are shocking to say the least.

To be responsible for that sort of ill treatment I'd guess you're obviously not responsible enough to look after any creature.

It would seem that I have been sold £130 worth of frankly "worhtless" equipment that at best will cause Thor to suffer. this hurts about as much as parking tickets!

I don't wish to name the store as yet until I have had a chance to talk with them directly and see if they will :

1) refund or rectify my set up to an acceptable level.

2) change the advice they are giving to new tortoise owners

Once again thanks for all the help.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 12-08-2006, 12:42 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 3,993

The problem with these places, is just because they sell a lot of reptiles they somehow think this qualifies them to call themselves reptile specialists They will no doubt give you the old story of 'We've always sold this stuff and have no complaints' etc. Thing is it will likely be a few years down the line that you realise when looking at pics on the net, that your tort looks nothing like itshould. I have had people come here and see the little rescued torts and say 'Oh I like that pointy one, that's unusual!' and they genuinely think it is a type of tort they have not seen before and are shocked when I tell them it has metabolic bone disease and should look like the boring old rounded ones. Flipping reptile shops need a good shake up on the whole. Of course following this mail there will be a few limp attempts to try and justify that theirs is different LOL I have actually seen a few that sell tort tables now, but the general husbandry info is not too good
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