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Posted: 05/02/2010 by jack

hi all

Can anyone help

I have two horsefields an i all so keep them in a viv an by reading up on this site looks like i should be keeping them in a table .
But the thing is i cant keep a table in the house as the wife wouldnt be to happy with that the viv sits nice in the room an if i was to get a table your talking 6ft long we just cant what should i do ????????any ideas

Posted: 06/02/2010 by tortoise7

Hi Jack

Yes you are right Viv's is not the place to be if you are a tortoise!!!
You can make an open top table look quite a nice feature in the room, if you give it some thought. Why not look in the gallery to get some ideas, and design one that would fit into you room, it doesn't have to be one long box it could be an L shape, maybe your wife might like to give her ideas and thoughts to it to. I know my husband has got the bug now!! Good luck

Jane, Keya & Molly

Posted: 06/02/2010 by TPGDave

Hi Jack,

You've encountered problem number one with tortoise keeping, they make a terrible "display" animal. Unfortunately a lot of shops and sellers continue to market vivaria as ideal for tortoises, but they are wholly unsuitable, some recent testing of viv's found them to be thermically innappropriate for a tortoise. Tortoises need a range of temperatures, in the wild this range is huge over a daily and annual cycle. My own experience of vivarium raised tortoises comes from the one's I've rehomed in a terrible state, the use of a viv often given in conjunction with other terrible advice by a shop or seller resulting in tortoise that need long term rehabilitation. (I have one such tortoise arriving this week, I will seek permission to provide photo's and a case history).

Also tortoises, even the "small"species like Horsfield and Western Hermanns get big, chunky and need room to exercise in order to stay healthy.  This seems to never be spoken of to potential new owners of a little hatchling tortoise!

I see from your other thred that you are going to construct an outdoor area. This is great and potentially with a few extra features such as the addition of a cold frame to allow your tortoises to warm up on less sunny days, this could provide a year round home for your Horsfields.  With the viv, first thing to do is take some temperature readings throughout. You can then work from there for the short term. Dependant on the viv you could remove or open the doors and block the space with a length of wood. This will allow ventilation whilst keeping the tortoise safe. Switch off all lights, heaters etc overnight, they really don't need it indoors.If you are using a substrate like wood chip, aspen etc, remove it and replace this with top soil from the garden centre or a DIY place. A deep layer of thei (10CM's for small tortoises) will allow them to make choices in regard to temperature regulation they do not get  with other substrates.

Please do consider a tortoise table. This would not have to be 6 foot for 2 small tortoises. I would think a 4 foot x 2 foot table would be ok. They are so easy to make , four lengths of wood and a piece of hardboard for a base. I have never had a problem with providing good basking temperatures using an open  tortoise table. They can be made to look really nice too, both for the viewer and the tortoise. They behave more naturally in a tortoise table, very active and entertaining to watch.

If I think of anything else I will add, if you have any questions please continue to ask, you're doing a great thing. :)

Posted: 06/02/2010 by jack


For the base am using wood chippings would it be ok to use compost ??????because i have a big bag of that as a base?

Posted: 07/02/2010 by tpgarlene

Hi Jack

I always use a 50/50 mix of topsoil and playsand for mine, and find this is a good consistancy for them.  You need to be a little bit careful with compost - it often has added fertilizers and/or things to make it retain water, which could be harmful to the tortoise.  The other problem I have seen with compost is that it can become very powdery and dusty with the lights on it.  So, check the bag to see what has been added to it, but you can get a bag of topsoil from places like B&Q for about 3.


Arlene TPG

Posted: 08/02/2010 by jack

hi all

ive check temp in my viv the heat lamp end is 29c an the cool end is 21c what do you think??????ive got about 3" of chippings as the base there is a drinking bowl with slate around it ive got sum rocks they can climb on

Posted: 10/02/2010 by VivTPG

Hi, the temps arn't too bad, could you lower the basking lamp/bulb down a touch so that the basking spot is about 35C? The cool end is fine.

You would be best to change the wood chippings to sand/soil mix it is more natural to torts replicating the wild.  Also you dont want to risk a fire with the wood chipping close to the lamps.

You're doing a great job so far, well done, VivienneClick and drag me down to the editor

Posted: 10/02/2010 by jack

thanks for vivienne
my lamp is about 12" away from the chippings they have started to dig down at night to sleep because ive put about 3-4 " of bedding down they seem to be happy so as thing are would it be ok to keep them in the viv then my wife is not to happy with the tables ??????

Posted: 14/02/2010 by VivTPG

Hi Jack, the best thing you can do regarding the viv for the short term is to take out the glass, lay it on its back so that the opening (where glass was) is on top,  and suspend the light from there, at least this will be an open box for air to circulate.  Whilst doing this I would remove the chipping and replace with deep soil/sand.  Then you will have chance to either make a largish table top or get a large indoor rabbit cage for it.

Let us know how you get on, regards Vivienne


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