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Temperature worries
Posted: 24/07/2008 by Ozric

Hi all.  I've been keeping a few torts for a few years now but I still worry  about temperatures.  I live in Scotland - not natural Hermann territory.  I've put a bit of effort into the facilities outdoors.  The beasts spend their summer nights in a conveted kennel which has a ceramic heater on a thermostat so no worries there.  Its the daytime that bothers me!

We've got a coldframe with access into a good sized enclosure.  The torts do go outside but they spend a lot of time in the coldframe, because its warmer in there.  I've fitted UVT acrylic so they are getting some natural UV when they are skulking in there.  But on some cool and cloudy days it doesn't get anywhere near 20C which is our tortoise table min. isn't it?  And this can go on for days at a time!

I don't bring them into the house and put them on the table because I'm convinced this confuses them, and after a few minutes they will avoid the lamp and go to sleep.

Now everyone says that tortoises in the wild get cool and cloudy days. Maybe they do but there is no way that a Hermann in Italy is having a week of 12-15C cloudy weather this time of year, in fact they would be getting 20C by breakfast virtually every day. Indoors we say you need about 30C for a basking spot; now this does happen in our coldframe on sunny warm days but we can go a week without one of them.

So what am I asking?  Well I was worried by something I recently read, that tortoises kept regularly at too low a temperature are not functioning the way they should do and can be developing health problems over time (not verbatim) - is this what I am doing? Also, if I was going to increase the temperature in the coldframe with a device on a thermostat, what would it be and is this just madness given the coldframe has to have a nice big door (which would let lots of heat out)?

Just to compliate my question even more, I've tried a megaRay in the kennel, and the torts can move between that and the coldframe and outside area.  But this brings two new problems - torts sitting under a lamp when the whole point is they are supposedly outside.  And on days when its not too cold I get excess temps under the MegaRay, which canot be controlled thermostatically, and I'm out of the house a lot during the day. So that is not the solution.

Sorry its such a long and involved question but I'm totally determined to do the best I can. The torts appear to be doing well, growth is slow and steady, they feed and are active.  But is it not the case that tortoise health problems develop very very slowly and they might seem alright when actually they may not be in a few years.

Feel free to tell me to stop fussing.  By the way, I'm a total forum tart and my name pops up all over the place - keeps me out of trouble!






Re: Temperature worries
Posted: 24/07/2008 by tpgadmin

Hi Joanthan Click and drag me down to the editor

I've seen your name on a few forums Click and drag me down to the editor but isn't that how we all learn?  I love your lengthy question and as such it deserves a long (ish) reply; so I promise I'll give you a good answer tomorrow when I get my brain in gear, unless someone else steps in before me.

Just to get your set up in my mind are youe saying that you have a kennel type set up with heat and a cold frame in the same enclosure that your torts can have access to?

Helen (from a cool day today) Yorkshire

Re: Temperature worries
Posted: 25/07/2008 by tpgadmin

Hi Jonathan here's my reply as promised.

Yes, I also constantly worry about temperatures for my tortoises.  Not only is the UK weather not warm enough (usually) but itís so unpredictable isnít it?  I keep Hermanns too and I have one of them in a similar set up to yours.  She has a home made kennel which is fully insulated with a night time heater on a thermostat.  I close the entrance up during the night with a drop down hatch, but when it is open during the day I have strips of plastic carpet runner at the entrance to keep the heat in if itís a cool day.  She also has a daytime 60 watt normal household reflector bulb set on a timer for use during the day in there.   

Unlike you I donít have a coldframe in this particular set up.  My Hermanns will go outside what ever the weather but some days she does spend more time inside her house.  The lamp is set to come on at 08.00 hours and switches off at10.00 and I have it set to come back on at 16.00 going of at 18.00.  On very warm days I donít have it coming on at all.  When it is on I find that she stays under her lamp to warm up and then ventures out.  I have to admit that sometimes in the late afternoon I put her back inside but normally she makes her own way back in to her house. 

On very cool days I switch the automatic timer off and let her bask all day if she wants to but even so at some point she will head outside.  Anything hotter than a 60 watt lamp in her house would be too warm.  If I wanted to provide UVB in there I would go for a UVB 10.0 tube and a 60 watt household reflector bulb.  This tortoise of mine is fairly mature now and this regime works perfectly for her and she is very healthy.

Good on you for wanting to do the best for your tortoise.



Below is a picture of her set up although the outside area looks slightly differently now Click and drag me down to the editor

Re: Temperature worries
Posted: 25/07/2008 by tortoise7


Thanks Jonathan for posting that concern as I have been going through the same dilemma myself. I have just fitted Keya's outdoor house with a Mega Ray (Well my patient husband has) so she has UV/heat, but as the weather keep changes whilst I am at work I am panicking that either it will be too hot or she hasn't got any heat, especially as you can't put the combined on a timer. Now I am thinking that maybe I should put the lights seperate, but before I ask my husband to change it all again!!! I wanted abit of advice. By reading your reply Helen to Jonathan I think I can safely say the two would be best suited for Keya in the outdoors and the Megaray for the Indoor pen, I bring her in every night as she is only 2yrs.

Click and drag me down to the editor Tortoise&- Jane


Re: Temperature worries
Posted: 25/07/2008 by Ozric

Thanks Helen for that really useful reply, and yes we've got a kennel with a walk-through to the coldframe which has a hole to get outside.

The 60W reflector bulb sounds like a good way to provide additional heat in the coldframe, a simple and cheap method, I must try it.  I might put a thermostatic control on it. And if I'm obsessing about UV  I could use a reptiglow without introducing any more heat, and have that on for a few hours daily in the frame as well. 

I was in France recently and went to a reptile place at Beauvais.  They had some Hermanns.  The torts had an outside area and could go indoors under a lamp if they wanted.  I was surprised they had a lamp for them as it wasn't at all cold.  I left this place with mixed feelings, not feeling sure if some of the larger species really ought to be 'enclosed'. But I'm rambling now!



Re: Temperature worries
Posted: 29/07/2008 by Tangerine

On our forum we advise people in the North of France to have green houses equipped with a Powersun 160W when they have graeca Ö may be this is what you need in Scotland for your Hermann Ė at least you know theyíll be getting their share of UVB and heat too Ö.


My torts right now get up quite early, eat a bit and sunbathe then they all hide from the sun and the heat from about midday until about 5 or 6 pm when theyíll come out and eat again before going to bed Click and drag me down to the editor

Re: Temperature worries
Posted: 12/08/2008 by Ozric

Thanks for that Tangerine.  Since I started this question I have been using a 100W MegaRay in the kennel (which is connected to the coldframe).  When the outside temperature is 18C or less Ican use the MegaRay without an excess of heat in the hut. 

My Hmanns will go outside at some point even on days that are poor and even when the MegaRay is on. So at the moment they are getting a couple of hours of heat and UV in the morning from 8 till 10 with the MegaRay.  Even if it turns into a nice day it's not going to  get above 18C by 10 in the morning. 

I've been thinking about the greenhouse+MegaRay way of doing things for a while and I might do that next year.


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