You're in > TPG Members Forum > Indoor and Outdoor Enclosures > Tortoise housing issue

Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 31/08/2010 by r.harris

I have recently bought a hermann tortoise from a pet shop.  I did do the research and had my mind set on a table top style housing, and was going to have the basking lamp and uvb  lighting etc needed to maintain the heat and the requirement of the tortoise.  Unfortunately I found myself being led into buying a glass vivarium and probably making a major mistake of 369.  I was expecting to have to put our tortoise into hibernation for a number of weeks as the tortoise I have bought is around one and a half years old, but was told this wouldn't be a good idea with them always being kept in a vivarium and not being hibernated before.  Is this true.  I have only just purchased this and feel I may have been directed wrong. My interpretaion of that was that it was making the tortoise almost grow to fast when not hibernating them.  I am considering and I don't know if you agree until I am able to afford a table top style housing next pay day, taking the glass doors off the front and the roof of the tank  removing to allow for air circulation.  I have covered three of the glass sides of the tank so it doesn't get stressed out as well.

Is there anything else you can suggest also can I ask you with a vivarium like I have got I do turn the uvb lights off at night do I and am I right to only have the basking light on for approximately 10 - 12 hours per day depending on the temperature.

Please can you advise me. 


Re: Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 31/08/2010 by tortoise7

Hi Click and drag me down to the editor

Yes it would be much better if you open the viv and allow the air to circulate, just until you are able to make a table top house. It doesn't have to be expensive, you could use a drawer or a wardrobe, depending on how much space you have, or a rabbit/guinea pig cage. I am guessing that they sold you a heat mat as well? if you are using one then I would take it out. The care sheets on the site are brilliant, so grab a cuppa and sit down and have a read. I always turn the lights off at night, the more you can replicate the wild the better it is for the torts, and when you think about it, the sun and heat are not there 24/7, generally as long as the temps don't drop below 18 degrees your tort won't start to slow down. I have my basking lights on for that length of time, so that they can come and warm up if they need to, basking area temps 30-32c, they do need a cool 18-22c area, which is hard to create in a viv, that is why the open tops are so much better for them.  
Personally I wouldn't hibernate this year, usually it is best to have a tort for a year and see how they are, alot of torts from pets shops can, not all, have worms, be dehydrated so I would see how they are first. Spend the time having a good read on hibernation and what you will need, and the method you will feel confident in doing.  Hibernating does help to slow the growth down and is of course a natural process for their systems, allowing the organs to rest.
Hope this helps, we are all on this learning journey ourselves so always happy to receive advice and give any that I can
Let us know how you have got on
Jane, Keya & Molly

Re: Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 31/08/2010 by r.harris

Thank you very much for your advice what a fantastic web site this is. Added it to my favourites ha ha ha

I have done exactly what you said and feel alot happier this way with the vivarium being open.  I have spent the day reading and researching about hibernating along with various other subjects of interest.  I feel like you said, it will be a good idea to not hibernate this time over winter. 

Can you possibly suggest suitable food to give them during the winter months as obviously alot of the suggested food isn't available during these times as I read somewhere on the website that tortoise food is addictive to them.So that would be out of the question . Also is the basking lamp to be placed at a specific height. 

Sorry to go on more, but if ever the winter weather turned really bad and the temperature went really low like the cold spell we had before, would it then be beneficial for a short period of time to replace the doors and roof of the vivarium  to retain the heat during this time period or will my tortoise probably be ok with our house being central heated.

Maybe it would be a good idea for some representatives from the tortoise protection group to run courses for sales assistants etc in pet shops on how to look after tortoises correctly so they give the customers the correct information. Because like I say this website is fantastic and I have learned alot already just reading through the members forum.  Although maybe it is pressure from managers above them to sell products. who knows

Re: Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 01/09/2010 by tortoise7

Hi Glad advice is being helpful although one of the TPG admin will probably come on soon and give their valuable advice too. Sorry seems to be something wrong with reply posts as they are posting twice, never mind better double than none at all.
Food over winter, I do reduce the amount and feed only 6 days out of 7. I do find that if you scout around you can find dandy leaves all year around and if you look on the tortoise table top site they tell you what is available at that time of the month.This isn't always possible and i can resort to Floretti salad bags sold in all supermarkets, not the ones that have spinach or beetroot. Also they can eat watercress, some torts like it some don't, these can help to bulk out the weeds that you can get. My husband and myself have spent many a sundays foraging around every country park looking for weeds, we do find them. That is the best thing about hibernation you don't have to worry, but the small amounts that you need for the baby's aren't usually a problem. Sorry I can only answer to part of your posting as it has cut off so will have to go back and re read and then reply which won't be until later tonight
Enjoy your reading you can tell us all what you have learnt as we all need a refresher, it's good when new people come onto the forum they make you think!!!!
Have fun
Jane, Keya & Molly

Re: Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 02/09/2010 by tortoise7

To carry on from your email, where is your viv placed? when you say central heated what do you mean?

Regarding petshops, unfortunately they make their money on selling  items that the tort should not be having e.g. viv's, heat mats,which we all know is not good for the tort. You could always go back to them and say that you have been doing some research and this is what you have found out and thought they might like know about it too, leaving them wewbsite addresses of the TPG & TT site and some care sheets, hopefully they might be one of the shops that are open to learning, and would like further education, but I doubt it, sad isn't it?

Re: Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 02/09/2010 by r.harris

our viv isn't near the central heating but is in the front room.  The house is central heated but obviously not on at the moment and would only probably be on during winter months.  Just concerned  in case we had a bad winter and it went cold if he will be ok cos I am going to not hibernate him this winter.   

Do you think I shouldn't be having in the front room.  We do have a outbuilding but it does get a little cold at night.

In regard to your comment about about giving them some information about the tortoise protection group I intend to do next time I am in the area.

Many thank R.

Re: Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 02/09/2010 by tortoise7

Where you have them should be ok, as long as the temps don't fall below 15 at night. When I bring the baby back indoors after the summer, she goes in her table top in the dining room which is central heated, and of course the temps drop at night, but she is in her house with strips of newspaper to cover her and I put a blanket over the whole table top to prevent any draughts. In the day if I am finding it hard to keep the cool end temps at 22c, I put her ceramic bulb on  to bring the temps up, and then of course she has her basking area of 30-32c. It will be much better once you get the table top up and running it is easier to get the right environment in.
Jane, Keya & Molly 

Re: Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 03/09/2010 by r.harris

Thank you very much for advice greatly appreciated. .  Been talking to a lady I work with today who said she has two tortoise and taken advice from her.  She is giving me her old table top.  so hopefully I will have a happy tortoise and I will be a happy owner knowing she is ok.  So thank you for every thing. R.

Re: Tortoise housing issue
Posted: 06/09/2010 by VivTPG

Hi, I agree with all the expert advice Jane has given you, please let us see some pics of your table top when you set it up, and take a look at our members enclosures for ideas,

regards Vivienne


web designer: