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indoor sulcata enclosures - questions for medium - large sized sulcata owners


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#1 nat_the_brat

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 02:50 PM

I am currently in the process of building a larger enclosure for my two sulcatas. They are currently in a 2 by 6 pen and due to incredible growth spurts, have outgrown this pen. Each tortoise is about 10 inches and aprx 6 to 8 lbs. While designing my new enclosure there are a couple of issues I would love to address that have bothered me.

1. My current enclosure is a basic tort table, with walls about 1 to 1.5 feet high. Their substrate is a topsoil / sand / peat soil combination and my reptile room is absolutely coated with a layer of dirt due to the sulcata kicking up their substrate. I have tried to move the ratio away from topsoil (the most dusty) towards more sand and peat (less dusty) but it doesn't seem to be helping. How do other owners deal with this? Have you found a substrate that doesn't do this or have you simply either placed a lid over the top (or just put up with it?). I honestly have a layer of dirt on every layer in that room, and since it is also my spare closet with my towels and linens, it would be very nice to stop that from happening.

2. When your torts start getting big, do you basically stick with the tort table style of enclosure or do you find you are making some modifications not really discussed in the smaller enclosures? (anything I should be aware of that is easily overlooked?)

3. Does anyone have any pictures to share of their medium / large indoor sulcata pens (or other large torts) to give me some inspiration?

thanks in advance!
nat

#2 Suikaatama

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 06:45 PM

Tortois voids the bladder and the bowels when tortoise has a bath.
So I give bath to tortoises every morning.
I keep easy my room to clean.
http://www.takasick....toise_bath.html

The story of turtle smile
http://www.takasick.com/

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#3 kyryah

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 08:05 AM

For one thing, if you are using a sand/peat mixture, it should be kept damp. Not soaking wet, but damp. It is a common misconception that Sulcatas need to be kept absolutely dry. They do require humidity. By keeping you substrate damp, that should also fix the dust issue.

My indoor enclosure is on the floor. While it is recommended to keep them off the floor to prevent chill from drafts, once a Sully hits about 20lbs it isn't practical.

Here is a picture of my Sulcata's enclosure. The substrate I use is timothy hay, and they have a humid hide box (not pictured.) I also have lamps all the way around the outside of the enclosure (not pictured either, sorry, but this was built by the tortoises previous owner, and I have made modifications, just don't have pics yet.)

My girls are 9 and 13 inches.

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Hope this helps.

Kristina

#4 Engagechad

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 08:26 AM

Torts need to graze, so outdoor enclosure are always more practical for sucatta's from what i've read. But seeing that you live in the great white north, I doubt its possible to keep a tort outside for more than a few hours.. haha

I'd go with a more hay route too, and/or dampening the soil.. but like Kristina said, not TOO much because if the substrate gets too damp it can cause rot on the plastron (I think someone had a red foot with this issue)

#5 kyryah

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 08:59 AM

Torts need to graze, so outdoor enclosure are always more practical for sucatta's from what i've read. But seeing that you live in the great white north, I doubt its possible to keep a tort outside for more than a few hours.. haha

I'd go with a more hay route too, and/or dampening the soil.. but like Kristina said, not TOO much because if the substrate gets too damp it can cause rot on the plastron (I think someone had a red foot with this issue)


A Redfoot with shell rot from being too damp? That doesn't sound right. Redfoots come from the edges of the rainforest where it is ALWAYS damp, and require a LOT of humidity.

I could see it happening with another tortoise, but i have never heard of a RFT getting shell rot from being kept too humid... Unless the substrate was absolute SOUP.

For a Sulcata the substrate should feel slightly moist to the touch, but with no visible water in between the particles.

Kristina

#6 nat_the_brat

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 10:23 AM

A Redfoot with shell rot from being too damp? That doesn't sound right. Redfoots come from the edges of the rainforest where it is ALWAYS damp, and require a LOT of humidity.

I could see it happening with another tortoise, but i have never heard of a RFT getting shell rot from being kept too humid... Unless the substrate was absolute SOUP.

For a Sulcata the substrate should feel slightly moist to the touch, but with no visible water in between the particles.

Kristina



Hi
Thanks for your responses and for your picture, I will add it to my bank of ideas.

I keep the substrate moist but because of their heat lamps and the overall warmth in my reptile room, the top of the substrate still dries out and gets dusty no matter how much water I use, so by the end of the day, its dry in the warmer half of the pen. Also, there was a pond liner stapled to the bottom of the pen to keep moisture away from the wood but the torts dug through it and now I cannot add too much water at any time to the enclosure or it just drips onto my carpet.

and in regards to redfoots with shell rot. I have seen at least three redfoots with shell rot, it is very possible. Remember, shell rot is not caused by water but by fungus and / or bacteria in the water. Its true redfoots do really well in moisture but if there is a fungal / bacterial culture in that moisture, it can cause shellrot.

#7 nat_the_brat

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 10:31 AM

Torts need to graze, so outdoor enclosure are always more practical for sucatta's from what i've read. But seeing that you live in the great white north, I doubt its possible to keep a tort outside for more than a few hours.. haha

I'd go with a more hay route too, and/or dampening the soil.. but like Kristina said, not TOO much because if the substrate gets too damp it can cause rot on the plastron (I think someone had a red foot with this issue)


Yes its true being in Canada has restricted their outside access. Though I had a greenhouse built for them and I was able to start putting them out on warm days in march, all of the time from about may-june to beginning of sept, and for parts of sept/oct when it was warm. So they did get a fair amount of outside time for being in Canada. They really loved their burrow (got to be about 5 - 7 feet long) and because I live in B.C. (temperate rainforest) it was a really humid burrow at that. Sadly I moved this year and have to leave the greenhouse enclosure behind (it was the size of a tool shed). So this summer I am going to have to start new plans for another one.

#8 LisaD

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 03:06 PM

Sounds perfectly accurate that redfoots among other tortoises, woods and boxies can get shell rot from too damp substrates and it not be soaking wet either. Many rescues including some wilds come in with it as well in part for the very reasosn Nat provided.

Anyway Nat, the only thing when I kept mine in tables indoors to cut back on the dust storm was to run the Roomba daily, increase the height of the wood walls and/or depending on the wall sizes decrease substrate somewhat. Also put hay about the perimeters helps a bit. And in reply to #2 yes you basically mimic the setup just increase the size with age/growth. I'll look for my older indoor pictures see if they help. Hope you are feeling well too. :)

#9 nat_the_brat

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 03:48 PM

Thank you for the input Lisa! We were pricing out wood and supplies today and it sounds like we are going w/ a 8 by 4 foot set up with 2 feet high walls so hopefully that will cut back on the dust. If not, well I will just buy brown accessories for that room so that no one will notice lol. And yes I am feeling well! Winter is always the hardest with the cold weather but its been good so far! :)

Edited by nat_the_brat, 16 January 2009 - 03:51 PM.


#10 Ronni

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 04:26 PM

I've got mine in basic plywood pens with 4x4 posts. I don't have a picture handy. I use hay for their bedding. It is deep enough for them to burrow into if they choose, but they can also eat it if they get the nibbles.

They are soaked a few times a week in a kid's plastic type pool inside. Mine are on the floor too as Panz alone is over 70 pounds. Sherm is probably in the 45 / 50 range.

Their pens are currently 4x8 each, but we're looking at how to expand. We've got a room that's about 20x35 that they're in. I'm seriously thinking of putting in the heated tile floors and just letting them have the room. Putting heavy plywood around the base, about 2 feet high and keeping the hay on the ground. Once they're this size it's kind of hard to keep them in pens. <_< Needless to say, winter is not my favorite time of the year.

#11 nat_the_brat

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:39 AM

Because it is my birthday this weekend, I suckered my husband into building me a new tort pen. I went with the ever so simple (and cheap!) 8 by 4 box using plywood. Overall, with the 3 sheets of 4 by 8 plywood, an extra bail of soil and peat, nails, etc came to about 60 bucks. We make the box yesterday and today I am going to get in there and actually start making it a nice home for the torts. I will post pics when I have a chance!

I decided to play with peat moss as a substrate. I don't intend to keep it overlly moist and I have added some moist topsoil to the area that I hope will be the torts burrowing area (I have also bought a large rubbermaid and cut a hole in it in hopes of them using it as a sleeping site). I went with peat moss because I use it for many other of my reptiles and I noticed the dust factor wasn't nearly as much as a problem as the topsoil was. While working on the enclosure yesterday I literary spent a good few hours wiping down shelving, equipment, etc because of the layer of dirt that had accumilated.

thank you everyone for the advice offered for my new tort home. I am hoping this enclosure will last them at least a couple of years... lets hope!

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#12 Ronni

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 07:25 PM

Yay you!! Or at least yay for the torts. They'll appreciate the extra room!

#13 Brian H

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 08:15 PM

great structure !! but i think you should have used 2x4s for the frame. it would be stronger :P

and i hope you used screws and not nails, wouldnt want the sullies knocking the nails out :o

keep us updated !

#14 nat_the_brat

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:41 PM

great structure !! but i think you should have used 2x4s for the frame. it would be stronger :P

and i hope you used screws and not nails, wouldnt want the sullies knocking the nails out :o

keep us updated !


lol yes we considered 2 by 4's but figured we would be out of that house before they are that big, and because of its size, the enclosure has to be disassembled anyways. Husband built it so that it should be fairly easy to save each wall and replace at a new location should the need arise. The other option is that we rebuild a second enclosure down the line and modify this one for our redfoots once they are a little bigger. I will certainly keep screws and 2 by 4's in my mind for the next modifications, Thanks!

Here are pics of the progress today. The enclosure is not entirely finished and still need to install lighting and mercury bulbs but you get the idea!

video I made on youtube:
* note, I filmed and uploaded it for the purpose of seeing if I was even technologically capable of doing so lol... sorry for poor quality of presentation and lighting.

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#15 lspiderl

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 02:35 AM

as far as dampness of the soil what i do for my russian seems to work well

i totaly soak the soil then let it ge bone dry ( till she starts acting up and digging all over rather then jstu her normal spots {looking for moisture } ) then i soak again


good heat lamps dry the soil out steadly and also if the tort is too moist they simply wont dig and will bask a bit more so its not normaly a problem

#16 LisaD

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 05:28 PM

Well done hubby and Nat-forgive me I misssed you birthday-Happy Birthday belated but very heartfelt. :)

#17 nat_the_brat

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 09:04 PM

awwww shucks :rolleyes: ... thanks Lisa!

#18 EJ

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 02:52 PM

You guys are gonna love this...

I place my outdoor tortoises in a rubbermaid box with plenty of hay... I then place them in a dark room where the temperature is 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit... They keep for a few months in this state... I guess you can call it hibernation... Redfoots, Sulcatas, Leopards, Aldabras and a few others...

Do I recommend this... NOT... I've only been doing this for about 3 years... after a few more years I might feel comfortable recommending this.

The idea actually came about by accident supported by keepers 'who did not have a clue'... like most good ideas.

To the dude with the Leopard picture... very nice looking animal.

#19 Brian H

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:53 PM

the enclosure looks great !! just wondering how deep your substrate is?

#20 nat_the_brat

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:55 PM

You guys are gonna love this...

I place my outdoor tortoises in a rubbermaid box with plenty of hay... I then place them in a dark room where the temperature is 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit... They keep for a few months in this state... I guess you can call it hibernation... Redfoots, Sulcatas, Leopards, Aldabras and a few others...

Do I recommend this... NOT... I've only been doing this for about 3 years... after a few more years I might feel comfortable recommending this.

The idea actually came about by accident supported by keepers 'who did not have a clue'... like most good ideas.

To the dude with the Leopard picture... very nice looking animal.


that's no fun! How are you supposed to interact with your tortoises and visit with them everyday when they are all boxed up and sleeping? I have done that for a few of my reptiles who go down into a brumation on their own but I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I couldn't come home at the end of the day and sit with my sulcatas for a little while!

sounds like an interesting experiment though ( would never experiment with my torts in that way but its interesting to see what they are capable of) .. what led you to want to try it considering the fact that these torts aren't technically supposed to be put in such states?

Brian = Its about 3-4 inches at this time

Edited by nat_the_brat, 21 January 2009 - 06:58 PM.





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