- Terrarium for a Central Asian tortoise
- Temperature and humidity conditions of Agrionemys horsfieldi
- Terrarium Ventilation
Terrarium for a Central Asian tortoise
A terrarium of horizontal type is required, with a volume of 300-400 liters. Of course, if the animal falls into the hands by chance, then you can limit it to a smaller volume. But, if it is started intentionally, then the owner is simply obligated to provide better conditions of detention. And any references to the lack of space for a terrarium of such a volume, etc., in the case of a special acquisition of an animal will be completely untenable.
The minimum width of the terrarium is calculated by the formula: the width of the tortoise shell multiplied by three (Kudryavtsev et al., 1991, 1995). This is necessary so that the animal can freely move around the terrarium and fully realize the need for movement (photo 1).
Corn substrate for rodents is best suited as a substrate. Unlike previously often used sand, it is not cold in depth and absorbs moisture well, including the liquid part of animal feces. In addition, it looks quite decorative. You need to fill up the filler with such a layer so that the turtle can freely undermine in it. It is not necessary to completely change the substrate, it is only necessary to periodically fill it up, maintaining the level (since, when cleaning the stool, part of the substrate will be removed from the terrarium along with them). In addition, it practically does not dust.
It is also necessary to place a shelter in the terrarium (an ordinary cardboard box can play its role), giving the turtle the opportunity to climb into it and rest (including from excessive "attention" from the owners). But the preferences of turtles can be different, and therefore one will use shelter, and the other will not. Therefore, if after installing the shelter it turns out that the animal does not use it, you can try substituting a plant to one of the corners of the terrarium (from the outside). It may well happen that the turtle will simply climb into the substrate next to the plant. After all, the glass is transparent, so the plant will be clearly visible to the animal. And in nature, Central Asian turtles climb for a day’s rest or at night, either into the soil or under some bushes. And the plant will act as an imitation of such a “bush”.
over, according to my observations, the architectonics of plants (i.e., to put it simply, the geometry of their forms) does not matter. The decisive sign when animals choose a plant as a suitable place for shelter is its significant size. The male living with me, initially refusing to use boxes for shelter, is undermined both by squat branched aloe (Aloe sp.), And under high pyramidal euphorbia (Euforbia trigona) (photo 2). In addition, I provide him in a place where he likes to settle down for the night (one of the corners of the terrarium), a sufficient amount of large shavings.
Chips, unlike corn filler, are better formed, so it is easier to dig into. And the animal burrows into it at night, with the light turned off, and gets out to the surface, respectively, after it is turned on. But it may not bury completely, but only undermine. Often, it generally remains on the surface at night. either under the same “bush”, or in one of the corners of the terrarium. At the same time, it is necessary to use large chips, and not small sawdust, since the latter are very dusty and, moreover, can be swallowed by animals (Strebkova, 2004).
Temperature and humidity conditions of Agrionemys horsfieldi
The optimum air temperature for the content of the Central Asian tortoise varies in the range of 28-30 ° C. In order to maintain the indicated temperature, an incandescent lamp should be placed in the terrarium. at a distance of about 25 cm from the top point of the tortoise shell, in the same cap that houses the UV lamps (in figure 1, the cap is highlighted in brown). Under it, the animal will warm up in the morning and maintain the body temperature necessary for normal functioning throughout the day. The lamp power is selected empirically, until the above temperature is reached in the terrarium.
In this case, it is preferable to use incandescent lamps with a mirror coating, which is much better providing local heating. It is also possible to use special lamps for local heating of reptiles. But the incandescent lamp should not be placed in the middle of the terrarium, but in its left or right side so that the other part is cooler (photo 1, left). At a temperature under the lamp of 28-30 ° C, in the opposite part of the terrarium the temperature will be 24-26 ° C. Thus, a temperature gradient will be created, and the animal will have the opportunity to choose the temperature regime. It should be specially noted that at temperatures below 20 ° C, the digestion of food slows down sharply, and, conversely, at temperatures above 34 ° C, the turtle may overheat, and at 38 ° C death (Strebkova, 2004). In this regard, the temperature parameters must be monitored daily.
Humidity in the terrarium should be low and be “ideally” 20-30%. It is this level of air humidity in the natural habitats of this species in the spring-summer period in the daytime (Babaev et al., 1986). And it will be approximately the same when the lamps are on. At night, the humidity level will rise slightly. In summer, during prolonged rains, humidity can rise to much higher elevations. But, unfortunately, it is almost impossible to correct the situation in this case. It should be noted that even a significant seasonal increase in humidity (compared with the above natural parameters) did not appear negatively on the physiology and other aspects of the vital activity of the male I have.
To control the temperature and humidity parameters, a thermometer and a hygrometer must be placed in the terrarium. In my experience working with various meters of temperature and humidity parameters (both when keeping animals at home and in the Leningrad Zoo), the most accurate figures are from mercury or alcohol devices, but their use is always associated with the risk of accidental damage and, as a consequence, the risk of intoxication animal. Therefore, my colleagues and I installed them in zoo terrariums with caution. And at home, the use of electronic devices can be recommended. Cheap thermometers and hygrometers are also on sale, with an adhesive surface for attaching to glass. But they often give an understatement or overstatement of several degrees, which must be taken into account when using them.
As a light source and, at the same time, a source of ultraviolet radiation, it is necessary to use lamps with the presence in the spectrum of ultraviolet waves: ultraviolet A (UVA) with a wavelength of 320-400 nm and ultraviolet B (UVB) with a wavelength of 290-320 nm, for example, Repti Glo brands. UVA rays have a biologically active effect and stimulate some forms of reptile behavior (Lillycohite, Gatten, 1995. cited from: Vasiliev, 2005). UVB rays contribute to the formation of 7-dehydrocholestrol (provitamin D3) in the skin of the reptiles and its transformation into previtamin D3. Previtamin D3, in turn, is converted under the influence of temperature to vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is responsible for the balance of calcium and phosphorus in the body of the turtle. Thus, the presence in the terrarium lighting system of lamps with ultraviolet radiation is absolutely necessary when the culture contains both this species and other types of reptiles. Otherwise, there is a significant risk of the occurrence and development of diseases associated with an imbalance of vitamin D3, grouped in foreign literature into a group called Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). “metabolic bone disease” (Mader, 1990). In the course of this disease, processes that cause calcium to be “washed out” of bone tissue begin to occur in the tortoise in the body. And this, as a result, leads to clinical manifestations of osteomalacia: deformations of the carapace, beak, and in severe cases, to the death of the animal (Vasiliev, 2005).
These lamps must be turned on for the whole day (12 hours), using at the same time as a source of illumination and, thus, providing the necessary duration of illumination. Lamps have a gradation. from "twos" to "ten". For the maintenance of the Central Asian tortoise, it is necessary to use "Repty Glo-10" (as indicated on the package). These lamps are most suitable for such parameters as light intensity and quality (i.e. color temperature in degrees Kelvin, color rendering index and spectral characteristic) to the needs of a Central Asian tortoise. as a species with a high level of solar radiation.
It must be remembered that good ventilation should be provided in the terrarium. Poor ventilation, along with high humidity, is a favorable environment for bacterial infections, can lead to mycoses, diseases of the respiratory system and even to the development of pulmonary edema (Kudryavtsev et al., 1991, 1995).
The best option for a ventilation system is convection ventilation. The convection ventilation scheme is as follows. The air, heating near the lighting lamps or heating lamps, rises, and its place is occupied by cold air from below. But conventional ventilation must be arranged so that the following rules are followed. Firstly, cold air should enter the lamps only through the terrarium.
The fact is that if you simply put the lamps on the cover, outside the cavity of the terrarium, then the cold air will heat up near them and rise up without going into the terrarium. Therefore, lighting lamps should be placed inside the hood, which covers the terrarium from above. Mesh ventilation holes should be made in the side wall of the terrarium (photo 3) and the hood. As a result, cold air will enter the terrarium only through the side ventilation hole in the terrarium wall, heat up near the lamps and rise upward, leaving the terrarium through the upper ventilation hole in the hood lid, taking the exhaust air with it and preventing its concentration inside the terrarium. Secondly, the two ventilation openings and the hood will create the desired draft, and you will be sure that the cold air that comes in the place of warm air is not the same exhaust air, only slightly cooled. And, thirdly, the use of the cap will prevent the oncoming — so-called “parasitic”. air flows from entering the terrarium. For the same purpose, do not make the top ventilation hole in the hood cover too large.