Do I Need a Hygrometer for My Tortoise Enclosure?

You need a hygrometer in your tortoise’s enclosure if you want to keep the humidity at the right level. Too much humidity can cause shell rot or respiratory problems, while too little can dehydrate the tortoise and affect its immune system. A hygrometer will allow you to monitor and maintain the correct humidity.

Tortoises, like most reptiles, require a degree of humidity. When you first acquired your tortoise you were probably made aware of the fact that you need a proper humid environment in which to house them. To aid with hydration you also need to provide fresh water and regularly soak your tortoise.

Whether you’re a beginner or experienced when it comes to tortoises, knowing the right level of humidity using judgement or gut intuition alone is difficult. While humidity is necessary, too little or too much of it can also be harmful to your tortoise. For this reason, it is well worth spending a few dollars or pounds on a basic hygrometer.

Bu what exactly is a hygrometer and how can it help in this regard? Here is what you need to know.

Hygrometers and What They do

A hygrometer is an instrument that allows you to precisely measure the amount of humidity in a given environment. A hygrometer typically measures variables including mass, pressure, temperature, and changes in the properties of a substrate as it absorbs water, all of which combined are used to determine the humidity level. Actually pretty clever stuff!

Why is it Useful to Have a Hygrometer?

Even if you’re aware of the humidity needs of tortoises, it’s more difficult to achieve the precise level you need, especially given that different species of tortoises require different levels of humidity, this highlights how specific their requirements actually are.

But no matter what, all species will humidity, and you need to provide enough to keep them healthy. Reptiles use their skin to absorb water (even though their skin is actually pretty waterproof and not that effective at absorbing water), and this is because, in the wild, they might not always find the water they can drink to stay hydrated. Therefore, they absorb it from their surroundings, which keeps them healthy. On top of that, humidity can help maintain the habitat’s ambient temperature, something that is also important.

If the tortoise becomes dehydrated, it will lead to health issues due to an immune system that becomes weakened as a result. Conversely, if the humidity is too high, it will lead to different health issues, chiefly shell rot, and respiratory problems.

So, to keep the humidity at the optimal level, you need to know how to adjust your setup and obtain the right amount of humidity for your torotoise. A hygrometer is the best available tool to help you determine what adjustments need to be made.

How to Use a Hygrometer and Where to Position it

Humidity is the water vapor in the air. To measure it, you will need a hygrometer. But how do you position it to give you the right results?

Ideally, you should position the hygrometer at the tortoise’s level, given that this is the area we’re interested in. You should place the probe into the substrate, taking readings at various regions of the ground. You should take readings under the basking light, in the hide, on the cool side, and so on. Move it everywhere and determine the overall average level of humidity, which can then be adjusted as necessary.

Recommended Hygrometer to Use

A good hygrometer to use is the Exo Terra Digital Hygrometer. One of the key things that makes this suitable is that it is a digital hygrometer, with a seperate probe which can be easily positioned inside the enclosure, while the screen can be positioned outside of the humid environment

Probe hydrometers are much better compared to analog ‘disc’ type hygrometers, for the simple reason that they are more accurate, and aren’t a combined sensor/display, which either restricts where you place the item, or makes it difficult to see the reading on the display . With a remote probe type, you can simply put the probe in the exact spot where you want to check the humidity, so you will get the accurate results you want.

The Exo-Terra Hygrometer only uses a single button in order to work. It is very easy to set up and very durable.

Having said that, don’t expect lab grade accuracy with this or any other pet hygrometer, but if used correctly it will give you readings to a sufficiently accurate level.

How to Increase Humidity When it is Too Low

Is the humidity in your tortoise’s enclosure too low? Here are some things you can do to increase it:

  • Soaked Sponge

A soaked sponge can work to slowly release moisture into the air and keep humidity at optimal levels for your tortoise. All you have to do is soak it in warm water and squeeze it to remove some of the excess liquid. Attach the sponge to the top of the hide and allow it to make the air humid.

This is a great solution, that costs mere pennies to implement.

  • Water Bowl/Dish

Placing a water bowl in your tortoise’s enclosure can also work, while a shallow dish also has the added benefit of being duel purpose, given that it can also serve as a source of drinking water for the tortoise.

This is probably the most common way by which people try to raise the humidity level in their tortoise’s tank. Simply place the bowl/dish somewhere safe and let it do its job. Be sure to periodically clean the water container and provide clean water.

  • Sphagnum Moss

If you want a proper natural product that can release more moisture into the air, sphagnum moss is a great choice. Like a sponge, it can hold moisture that will then evaporate into the air and keep humidity at ideal levels.

Sphagnum moss can be provided as a partial substrate that’s deep enough to allow the pet to burrow into, but also moist enough to release just the right amount of moisture for maintaining the healthy condition of the tortoise.

  • Use a Spray Bottle

It’s well worth getting into the habit each day of taking a spray bottle with fresh water and giving the tortoise enclosure a quick spray.

While you could simply pour an amount of water on the bedding, this would only cause the moisture to be distributed unevenly. Using a spray bottle on a daily basis will evenly distribute moisture and rapidly bring up the level of humidity in the whole enclosure.

Final Thoughts

Keeping the ideal humidity levels for your tortoise is crucial. It is one way to ensure the pet is healthy and that it will feel happy. Too much or too little moisture could be harmful. So, a hygrometer will allow you to measure the level of humidity and give your tortoise the good life it deserves.

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