An Indoor Area is essential for all Tortoises.
This should be dry and free from draughts. During daylight hours, the background temperature should be kept to at least 20C for healthy tortoises, at least 25C for sick tortoises that will bask and 28C-30C (with no access to an outside area) for sick tortoises that will not bask. During the night there is no need to provide heat unless the temperature drops below 5C. The floor should be covered eg. with newspaper, ready grass or 50%topsoil/50%playpit sand, cleaned daily and disinfected from time to time.
In order to provide the missing sunshine, for every tortoise, one 100 watt R95 reflector spot bulb in lamp shade should be facing down to allow them to bask.
The height of the lamp should be adjusted to give a temperature on the floor beneath the lamp of about 30C and the lamp should be switched on in the morning and off in the evening. (Preferably with the use of a timer) to coincide with the Mediterranean sunshine hours which are:
- April - 12hrs
- May - 13hrs
- June - 14hrs
- July - 15hrs
- August - 14hrs
- September - Start preparing for hibernation.
If you find that the 100 watt is not reaching the required temperatures then you can also get a 150 watt reflector spot which may be better.
The Tortoise must have access to the lamp all day and every day, even in the summer. The idea is to provide a Mediterranean climate with Mediterranean sunshine inside their house. You can use a garage, an outhouse or a garden shed for this. If you get the set-up right, your tortoise will strongly prefer this to being outside, except for the very hottest of English days.
Idea for Indoor Set up
This would be the ideal area for the basking lamp with an opening into the shed here >
This ^ would be a wall to prevent draughts from cooling the basking area.
< This would be the exit to the outside area
This would be an open floor space for the tortoise to wander around.
This is the sleeping area with a wall
< here to shelter Tortoise.
This would be open floor space.
This type of Indoor set up will give your tortoise everything that it needs to be able to stay indoors if it wishes.
The floor can be as simple as newspaper, which you can clean easily, or you could use 50/50 Loam/Play pit sand for most Mediterranean tortoises.
Ready grass which is very good and suitable for Leopards and Sulcatas or a mixture of Loam/Sand/Bark/Moss/Leaves for Redfoots, Yellowfoots and Hingeback Tortoises.
This Indoor set up is suitable for Graecas, Hermanni, Horsfieldi (Mediterranean's) but for the larger Tropical Tortoises like Redfoots, Yellowfoots, Hingebacks, Leopards and early years of Sulcatas* you will also need to insulate very well and add additional heating as these tortoises DO NOT hibernate and need to be kept warm all year round. These larger tortoises also need plenty of room to live in during the winter so you need to ensure that your area is large enough before getting one.
* The reason for mentioning early years of Sulcatas is because that as they get large, which they will do, they get very powerful and a garden shed will not be enough, they will simply walk through it. The most suitable set up is a brick garage/building with underfloor heating, heaters on the walls, double glazing to any windows, insulated roof and walls, and plenty of basking lamps. These are not tortoises to just take in without a lot of consideration and plenty of money to ensure that they have the life they deserve.