New Indoor Redfoot Tortoise Enclosure
Now that we’ve moved to the Dallas metroplex from Minneapolis, we need to create an indoor pen for our sub-adult Redfoot tortoises.
I’m using a 3 foot by 8 foot wood pen I had been using for one of my male Russians, who’s now in with another male and costing nicely, for my small sub-adult Redfoot herd.
First, my wife and I used an old dark brown tarp and fit and cut it to size for the inside of the pen. This will keep moisture levels higher at tortoise level, which is important for Redfoot’s since they’re tropical forest animals. We’ve used duct tape to adhere it to the top of the pen.
For the substrate I’ve used my combo of choice, a 50/50 mix pf topsoil and expanded, damp coconut fiber. This we top with 1-2 inches of finely milled cypress mulch.
The beauty of this substrate is it retains moisture very well, but with the cypress mulch topping keeps the tortoises from getting any level of shell rot on their plastron’s if the topsoil/coconut fiber gets too wet from my adding water to it.
I use a 3-4 inch depth of substrate because over time it compacts down to 2=3 inches even with my added weekly water.
Next we add plastic plants to one third of the pen to give them places to hide and simulate the forest floor where at this age they spend 100% of their time. To the next third we add the heat emitter and light to provide constant heat and dim light to simulate the light inside a tropical forest.
A 100 watt heat emitter keeps the pen at a 70-85 degree temperature gradient across the pen. The light I’m using is a 13 watt UVB bulb. It’s the only bulb I had at home and I wanted as low a wattage as possible because I don’t want a bulb to produce heat.
UVB bulbs aren’t required for Redfoot’s as long as you feed them a small amount of animal protein (low fat cat food for example) mixed with a liberal amount of pure calcium carbonate every 10 days or so.
I’m using Plexiglas we brought with us to Texas to cover the pen top in order to hold in the heat and moisture. It’s not the best looking setup, but it works for now. 🙂
We mist down the pen every other day to ensure the humidity stays at 60-80%.
So there you have it, a way to re-purpose a pen used for an arid species to one for a forest species.