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Vivarium or Tortoise Table?

There’s long been a debate regarding suitable indoor enclosures for tortoises. Well, researchers at International's Research and Breeding Facility, they have been studying the effects of both Vivariums and Tortoise Tables on a variety of species and home environments with the following results.


They have found health issues with some tortoises kept for long term in some homemade vivariums due to lack of ventilation. After speaking to many owners over the past years, they have discovered that the reason for minimising vents when constructing their own vivariums is to retain heat which seems logical. However tortoises don’t necessarily need a high constant heat across the entire enclosure. The heat lamp is only designed to give a hot spot for basking with a reduced ambient heat across the rest of the vivarium. This gives the tortoise the choice to move in and out of the heat to help regulate its own body temperature.


Professionally manufactured vivariums will be constructed with adequate ventilation which is very important for the health of the tortoise. They have found that all species of tortoises (Temperate and Tropical) seem to do well in enclosed vivariums with adequate ventilation. Although enclosed, it will still retain a reasonable temperature at night.


Vivariums are also ideal if you have small inquisitive children and pets such as cats as the glass sliding doors can be locked. A Tortoise Table in this situation would not be suitable.

Tortoise Tables

It has been long considered that Tortoise Tables are the best thing to keep your tortoise in. Now this all depends on the species, the environment where the table is kept, and whether or not you wish to hibernate your tortoise, provided it is a hibernating species.


All Mediterranean species, including Horsfield tortoises, seem to do very well in both vivariums and tortoise tables as they naturally have night temperature reductions in the wild, whereas Tropical species tend not to. 


It is easy to understand that it would be more difficult to maintain a reasonable night temperature in a Tortoise Table than in a Vivarium, so Tropical species may not fare as well as a Mediterranean kept in this situation.


As winter approaches, night temperature starts to drop followed by colder day temperatures, which will naturally start off the motions of hibernation. First signs will be lack of appetite and eventually refusing food altogether. Around this same time, we start to heat our homes raising the ambient temperature, but for how long? 


Heating tends to go off or go very low once we are in our warm beds at night not realising how the temperature in your home drops. Plus, if you are out at work all day, your heating again will be switched off and, with a cold background temperature, the Tortoise Table may struggle maintaining a reasonable temperature.

Tortoise Table


Vivariums, provided they are professionally manufactured with adequate ventilation, should be fine and can help protect your tortoises from unwanted attention, children and pets.

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