MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR ANY TORTOISE-
1. 3ft X 18” X 18” WOODEN VIVARIUM FOR TORTOISES UP TO ABOUT 2-3YEARS OF AGE.
2. UV LIGHTING 10-12% 2/3 LENGTH OF TANK. PREFERABLY AN ARCAIDA T5 PRO KIT
3. INCANDESCENT HEAT BULB PREFERABLY WITH A DIMMING THERMOSTAT OR CERAMIC HEATING WITH PULSE THERMOSTAT FOR LARGER TANKS
4. BROAD RANGE VITAMIN SUPPLEMENT
Vivarium Set-Up Heating
All heating should be positioned at the same end of the tank, creating a hot basking end for your tank. The opposite end should have no heating, creating a cool end for your tank.
Mediterranean and Russian tortoises do not require a nighttime drop in temperature. In a suitably sized enclosure, there will be a thermal gradient in the tank (a hot end and a cold end), meaning that the animal can move to the cooler end of the tank if the animal requires it.
If you are concerned about the light from the heat bulb keeping your animal awake at night, dark moonlight and infra-red bulbs are available. Never place your vivarium near radiators, direct sunlight, drafts, busy areas or appliances that create a lot of noise.
UVB lighting is essential for ALL herbivorous and insectivorous reptiles and is required 12-14 hours a day. We recommend using a minimum UVB rating of 10%.
The UV tube should start against the wall at the hot end and span 2/3 the length of the enclosure thus creating a UV gradient much like your heating. For 15-18” high tanks, It is best to use a 12% and position your UV tube on the ceiling of the vivarium. For 10% tubes, position it just below the vents on the back wall of the tank. For vivariums, 2ft and over, a 12%-14% UV with a reflector or an Arcadia T5 pro kit should be used and placed on the ceiling of the vivarium.
Tortoise Table Set-Up
Some people use tortoise tables but these are not always the best option. Due to the tables having an open-top they do not keep an ambient temperature as heat rises.
Because of this, it can be very hard to keep your tortoise at the correct temperature in the average house temperature. Being kept at the wrong temperature can cause quite a few health problems.
Reptiles cannot digest their food if kept at the wrong temperature which can cause impaction or the animal will refuse to eat till they believe it is warm enough to do so, which can, in turn, cause the animal to drop in weight.
Substrate, Cleaning & Décor
The best substrate for your tortoise depends on the exact species and where they come from. Tortoises from humid regions like Hermann’s, Spur thighs and Marginateds do best on orchid bark or a bio soil. Horsfield’s come from a dryer region and do better on beech chip, hemp bedding or other dry substrates.
Spot clean your vivarium regularly, if done properly a full vivarium clean should only be necessary every 6-8 weeks. Only use disinfectants specifically designed for reptiles. Soap, detergents and other disinfectants can be toxic to your animal.
Feeding, Hydration & Vitamin Supplements
Many different feeding routines and diets have been used with varying levels of success.
Tortoises should be given fresh vegetables every day for growing tortoises and every other day for grown tortoises and access to as much dry food as it wants.
A tortoise’s wet diet is made up of 90% leafy greens, such as Spring greens, Rocket, Endives, various salad leaves and selected weeds. The final 10% is made up of fruits and vegetables to add colour and flavour.
• Spring greens are the best option for greens as they are not high in moisture and widely liked as a favorite
• Weeds such as dandelions. You can also buy from any good exotics pet dealer packs of weed seeds
• Mustard greens
• Most all basic salad leaves are fine provided you add something more substantial
• Green beans
• Herbs such as Mint, Basil and Fennel. (Also useful to add flavour)
• To add flavour, Mango, Papaya, Bell pepper, Apple, kiwi, carrot
• As occasional treats only, Grapes, Blueberries, Rose petals, and Hibiscus and Pansy flowers
Handling, Health & Additional Notes
Do not handle your tortoise immediately after purchasing it or after a move; leave at least four weeks to allow your animal to settle. Or until your Tortoise is active and eating well for a few weeks. If you don’t your animal may get stressed and become reclusive and fail to feed properly.
After the initial four weeks, handling and activity outside may begin slowly. Tortoises are not aggressive but can be a little shy, to begin with, you do not need to restrain or excessively handle them to make them good pets. Always handle your animal near to a surface, accidents can happen and tortoises don’t fly! Please always use common sense when handling animals.
When it comes to your animal’s health, if you are ever in doubt, ask a respected dealer for their advice, and if still in doubt go to a specialist veterinarian. Although your tortoise should live for around a hundred years there seems to be very little that ever goes wrong with them.
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