Hermann's tortoises need a daytime background heat of 20c and a basking temperature of 32c, this enables the tortoise to thermoregulate between 20c and 32c of its own choice.
The best basking source in our opinion is a Mega Ray UV spotlight that most closely imitates what a tortoise needs. This should be suspended on a chain to achieve a ground temperature of 32c using a thermometer. The best way we find is to set the temperature of the mega ray to 32c at the hottest part of the day ie. around 12 - 3pm. This allows for a gradual rise in temperature.The Mega Ray should be connected to a timer switch so the tortoise receives a 12 hour cycle of daylight and a 12 hour cycle of night time.
We use a heater with a thermostat set at 20c for background heat, also on a 12 hour timer for day time use.On a night time, night lights, heat mats, hot rocks etc. should not be used. Hermann's tortoises can safely cool down to as low as 12c on a night time and is beneficial to do so. Most indoor housing do not drop below these levels on a night, a minimum maximum thermometer would be very useful to verify.
Tortoise tables are much cheaper and are much better than a fish tank or vivarium.Tortoises need to live in a tortoise table which allows a good air flow. (see our photos in the photo gallery) Vivariums and fish tanks are not to be used as they do not allow enough air flow and this can cause Runny Nose Syndrome due to being in a humid environment. There is also a poor temperature gradient in vivarium's and fish tanks which often means the tortoise is too warm which leads to too fast growth and dehydration. Tortoises also do not understand glass, if they can see through it, they will constantly try to climb through it which stresses the tortoise.
When a tortoise spends all of its life on or under the ground, the right substrate is important. In the wild, the soil is very sandy and the best way to imitate this is to use play sand and topsoil mixed together 50/50 by volume. We find B&Q play sand and B&Q top soil a good choice. Some builders sands can have irritants in them or damage the tortoises eyes, play sand is non toxic and is safe for children, so will also be safe for your tortoise. The substrate should be sprayed to keep it slightly damp so dust doesn't blow about as this can irritate the tortoises eyes and nose. Enough substrate should be allowed so the tortoise can dig down to hide and create its own micro climate, this helps keep the tortoise hydrated as well as making it feel safe. Young tortoises like a varied environment, this can be achieved by having an area of rocks to climb as well as to give the tortoise a varied landscape. A flat landscape is boring, a plant or rocks etc. in the middle of the tortoise table breaks its line of sight and lets the tortoise think it is going somewhere on its travels.
We bath tortoises daily up to age 2 years old and then every 2-3 days when older.We use warm water in a dark washing up bowl and pour until water is level with chin. We bath ours under their Mega Rays for around 20 minutes to help keep the water warm. Bathing keeps a tortoise hydrated and tortoises will drink the water through their nostrils, do not worry if you think they have their head under the water for a while, they can drink for several minutes.As long as you know they could lift up their heads if they wanted to breath, everything is ok.This is the time you will often see urates, it's the white stuff in their wee. If it looks gritty, it means they are a little dehydrated and needs bathing more, if it looks like the white on a poached egg, that is fine.The urates are just the tortoises way of expelling waste products that it doesn't need. Clear wee means the tortoises are perfectly hydrated. Tortoises also often poo in the water as well, this also helps keep the tortoise table cleaner.