Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

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Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby Tortoise Trust » Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:52 am

The full tests of vivarium systems revealing a number of problems with enclosed designs are now available for download:

ttphotos/Tortoise%20Vivarium%20Tests.pdf

Test of typical class vivarium tank (Jon Coote Tortoise Starter Kit)

ttphotos/Tortoise%20Vivarium%20Tests%20Part%20Two.pdf

Test of typical wooden type vivarium (Geko brand)

ttphotos/Tortoise%20Vivarium%20Tests%20Part%20Three.pdf

Test of typical, basic 'Tortoise Table' type housing unit


Some of this is quite technical. However, the trend of the results so far are quite clear: a key issue in the enclosed designs (even a deep walled tank with mesh top) is lack of ventilation. This results in poor convection and in inadequate gradients being made available. Fixed height lamps are identified as a major problem area. It is also clear that a key element of getting a tortoise indoor habitat right is balancing the lamp output, the height of the lamp, and the airflow within/through the unit.

If this is achieved you will get:

1) An adequate gradient (minimum 8 C, ideal 10-15 C) between hottest and coolest areas.
2) Safe, but effective basking temperatures (30-38 C)

The only unit to achieve this in the tests was the open-topped 'Tortoise Table'. It was also the only unit to provide truly adequate UV-B levels.

This relates to Testudo (Mediterranean tortoises) - obviously, for tropical tortoises such as Redfoots or Hingebacks quite different conditions are required. As always, check the species-specific guidelines on the main Tortoise Trust website:

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/a ... #husbandry

It is also very clear that heat pads under substrate are extremely dangerous and can generate truly astonishing temperatures capable of inflicting severe thermal burns. Do not ever use a heat pad under substrate and in all cases use a properly coupled thermostat. Heat pads without a thermostat should never be used. The thermostat sensor must be properly coupled to the heat pad to be effective.

Finally, do not rely on cheap "vivarium thermometers" of the mechanical, plastic variety. These are very inaccurate and misleading. You can have near-lethal temperatures within a habitat while one of these thermometers is telling you everything is safe.

If you operate ANY indoor tortoise habitat with lamps, we recommend you use at least two separate thermometers to carry out tests regularly. One can be a non-contact IR type and the other should be a digital type with remote probe. Regular testing like this will ensure that you know exactly what is going on within your habitats and will enable you to make fine adjustments to the setup guaranteeing a safe and suitable home for your tortoises.

Failure to provide a suitable and safe environment is, in the UK, a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) and also breaches the Sale of Goods Act. This special guide explains further, and may be useful if you have been sold an unsuitable, or unsafe vivarium:

ttphotos/Animal%20Welfare%20Act%20Tortoise%20Housing.pdf



Andy Highfield
Nadine Highfield
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Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby BlusterBrown » Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:44 pm

Hello!
Thank you so much for your articles on outdoor enclosure designs. My two torts have outgrown their original outdoor enclosure so I will build a new one within the next few months. I have a few questions about the enclosure in your article: http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/habitatdesign.htm

Can you please provide the specifics of the tort houses, such as the materials used & construction details?

What type of plants are in the closure? I am looking to add additional plants to the ones my torts already eat!

thanks again for your valuable information.

-Shellie
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Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby Archie » Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:17 am

Im new to this Forum and have only had archie just under a year.He is nearly 4. and i was supplied with a wooden 'Vivarium' and 'wooden chips' for my 'new pets' home too!
I spent SO much time,trying to get more information on how to 'best' look after him,and now ive learned not to go to anymore websites or different 'petshops' as ive had SO many conflicting opinions and cant believe the difference in advice on 'how to look after your tortiose!'
Im sticking to the ' tortoise trust' from now on and i plan to build 'Archie' a new table-top home as you've detailed on your website.
Thankyou SO much. KAREN x
Feel free to offer me any information you think would help me, as archie is still in this vivarium, although iv changed his substrate to the sand/soil mix and have a thermometer at the hot+ the cool end of the tank.He eats well, although not much variety!+comes out nearly every day to wander around the house!
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Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby Tortoise Trust » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:36 am

You should find all you need in the ARTICLES area of our main website: www.tortoisetrust.org

Do be careful allowing tortoises to walk around a house. All kinds of accidents can happen:

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/roaming.html

Much safer in some kind of penned-off type area.
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Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby lipsylexi » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:06 pm

hi i'm new to this forum i have got a 2 year old tortoise. I was also provided with a viv and wood chips i was assured this was correct by the pet shop. Within a few months of having Norman he developed and eye infection by the time his vet appointment had arrived Norman had lost his sight in one of his eyes and the vet said this may have been due to the wood chips, I'd never felt so sad and this could of been avoided, he now has soil/sand. I too have been given lots of different advice on how to look after Norman, but think i will just use the advice from this website now. Norman is my first pet tortoise and I love him very much so i need all the information i can get to help him have a happy time with me.
Lexi xXx
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Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby Tortoise Trust » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:03 am

lipsylexi wrote:hi i'm new to this forum i have got a 2 year old tortoise. I was also provided with a viv and wood chips i was assured this was correct by the pet shop.


This is the basic problem... they will ALWAYS assure you whatever they want to sell is "correct". In some (many) cases they are genuinely ignorant of the real facts, in others, they know the facts but also know they can make more profit by misleading you. So, we see vivariums, heat pads, dangerous, ineffective lamps and lethal substrates continuing to be sold.

In my opinion, this is only likely to end when people who's animals have suffered injury or death as a result of being sold unsuitable equipment start taking legal action in the small claims court not only for refunds but also for consequential veterinary bills.
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Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby cbgregson » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:55 pm

hi

i am getting a red footed tortoise and have ordered a custom made vivarium 6ft by 30 inches and 30iches deep i just want to know how many lights what kind of light i will need to make sure my lil guy is ok and healthy i hear a lot of talk about venterlation with in these tanks so i've requested for extra vents aswell please can someone help me
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Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby JENNA6684 » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:28 am

Hello wondered if you could help me. I have a horsefield tortiose had her nearly two years. She lives in a vivarium but comes out most days just around the house. Nothing is wrong with her shes not been ill but just heard so many different things about vivs so wanted to know whats best. She has heat mats and all the lights etc in it and seems happy. But wanted to check its healthy for her. Any information would be great.
Many thanks
Jenna
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Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby JENNA6684 » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:33 am

Hello wondered if you could help me. I have a horsefield tortiose had her nearly two years. She lives in a vivarium but comes out most days just around the house. Nothing is wrong with her shes not been ill but just heard so many different things about vivs so wanted to know whats best. She has heat mats and all the lights etc in it and seems happy. But wanted to check its healthy for her. Any information would be great.
Many thanks
Jenna
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Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:27 pm

Re: Tortoise Vivarium Reference Material

Postby Joan » Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:26 am

Have you read both of Andy's replies on this thread dated 15.02.11 and 30.11.12? These replies should answer your questions!
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