All about Indian & Burmese Star tortoises, Angulates, and Golden Greeks...

Indoor Housing p.2

- vivariums -

Burmese Star tortoise baby wathing world go by

Burmese Star tortoise youngster (Geochelone platynota) watching the world go by through her vivarium window. No, she's not clawing and trying to get out of her enclosure. She's just checking out what's going on in the room. :O)

Indoor housing info

Read the indoor housing page 1 first for detailed info on housing for small, dryish area species tortoises. Also check the other housing related pages listed under "Housing" in the menus on the right and at the end of this page.

Babies need higher humidity

Fast growing baby tortoises need higher humidity than adults. Adequate humidity and hydration is extremely important for their well being and also affects their shell development.

Stars vs Greeks etc.

Baby Star tortoises do well in vivarium type setups with high ambient humidity and warm temperatures.

Greeks and other similar dry area species can be raised in open top enclosures (see housing p.1), but they need deep, slightly damp substrate areas for burrowing. This allows them to spend as much time as they wish in a humid environment.

Indian Star tortoise vivarium

This beautiful vivarium houses baby Indian Star tortoises. Using vivariums is an easy way to provide higher ambient humidity for growing Star babies. Photo courtesy of Julius Guillaumey, France.

Vivarium vs terrarium

Technically, terrariums are used for growing plants and vivariums for keeping live animals. In other words, vivariums are terrariums for animals. Among reptile keepers, these two terms are often used interchangeably when referring to fully closed reptile enclosures.

Vivariums for tortoises

Vivariums are totally enclosed reptile boxes with clear front doors. Using them as indoor enclosures for small tortoises is often debated among tortoise keepers. Some love them and others don't.

Small size vivariums have a too limited floor space and provide an inadequate temperature gradient. Therefore, choose the LONGEST vivarium possible with a height of about 2 ft to allow room for heating, basking, and UVB bulbs. It's much easier to create a temperature gradient in a longer, 4-8 ft (122-244 cm) vivarium than in a short one.

Vivariums work best for Star tortoise hatchlings and youngsters. They are easy to keep warm and humid.

Enlarging vivariumsdouble cage

For older youngsters, you can join two, or more, vivariums together by creating a doorway between them. For example, joining two 6 ft long vivariums together gives you a 12 ft enclosure!

You can remove whole walls or just cut a doorway between the vivariums. Smaller door openings are easier to patch up if you later decide to separate the vivariums again. Some vivarium sellers even build units with removable side walls to allow them to be connected.

Lighting & heating

Enclosed reptile cages can be quite dark because the ceiling and all walls are made of solid material. Only the clear doors let in some natural light. Like living in a cave. Using bright UVB and day light bulbs will help brighten up the interior. See the lighting page.

Keep the basking end of the vivarium warmer and the other end cooler. Do check the temperature gradient and humidity levels carefully. You'll need to be sure that the conditions inside the cage are optimal. If the allover ambient temperature is too high, there's no place for the tortoise to escape the heat! See the heating page.

Cleaning & allergies

Reptile cages are also more difficult to clean because you can only access them through the front doors. With a fully open top, large reptile tubs are much easier to clean. Small to medium sized tubs can be carried outside to dump the substrate and then hosed clean.

One plus of vivariums is that they can help control substrate odors. With this, I mean the smell of clean substrate itself, not the smell of accumulated animal waste! This odor taming can be a big benefit for allergic and asthmatic keepers who are sensitive to the natural materials used as indoor tortoise substrates. See the housing & allergics page.

Vivarium examples

hatchling star tortoises (Geochelone platynota) in a Showcase Cage 4 ft x 2 ft

Simple and safe vivarium setup for Burmese Star hatchlings. The sphagnum moss and coconut coir are be kept slightly damp to increase the ambient humidity. The dark hidebox provides more privacy and a place to get away from the UVB light.

If the humidity level inside the vivarium is too low, add several inches of substrate (e.g. coco coir, soil, or mix of the two) to the bottom and keep it slightly damp.

vivarium for Indian star tortoises

Vivarium for Indian Star tortoise babies. Photo courtesy of Julius Guillaumey, France.

vivarium for Indian star tortoises

Vivarium for Indian Star babies. Photo courtesy of Julius Guillaumey, France.

vivarium for Indian stars

Vivarium for Indian Star babies. Photo courtesy of Julius Guillaumey, France.


Related pages: indoor housing p.1 & housing pages listed below


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