How to Make a Humid Hide for a Tortoise – Full Guide

Tortoises are reptiles that need a humid environment to thrive. There are many ways to create a humid environment for your tortoise, but one of the easiest is by using an old fish tank and some moss. In this article, we’ll show you how to make a simple and inexpensive humid hide for your tortoise.

In this article, we’ll show you how to make a simple and inexpensive humid hide for your tortoise.

First find or buy an old fish tank with a tight fitting lid that will accommodate your tortoise’s size. Remember tortoises grow so be prepared for the future. Next use silicone sealant to attach bricks or cinder blocks on either side of the tank (near the top) to provide a way for humidity to escape while holding in moisture.

The rule of thumb is there should be at least one inch of space between the substrate and water level. Excess water can then seep out through little holes drilled around the bricks or cinder blocks. For added protection, fix any leaks from the wall where water spouts out.

Now line the base of the tank with Lizard Litter or Sterilite Pea gravel (some use a thin layer of Sphagnum Moss). This will increase humidity and prevent your tortoise from burrowing into dirt, sand, or other substrate that may contain impurities.

Next place a inch thick layer of sphagnum moss into the tank. The moss functions similar to a sponge-it will absorb water from the container and hold it in place. Next add a layer of cork tiles or bark for your tortoise to walk on. Add another inch of sphagnum moss, then some flat pieces of slate or rocks to create a natural burrow area (be sure to use slate or rocks that have not been treated with chemicals like arsenic, copper etc. as these may leach into your tortoise’s food and cause serious health issues).

Finally add a final layer of sphagnum moss to line the bottom of the humid hide. Again, make sure there is at least an inch between this layer and

Tortoises are reclusive, docile, and shy land-dwellers that love to live in humidity. They need excess humidity (in natural habitat and captivity) for their normal body functioning, thus longevity to provide you lifetime companionship. You must chew over arranging a wooden vivarium or a tortoise table if you own a pet tortoise.   

Providing a perfect housing environment with appropriate humidity and temperature is a matter of fact that needs your attention. Either a wooden vivarium or a tabletop can serve as a hide box but demands an apt set-up.

What Is A Humid Hide For a Tortoise?

A humid hide for a tortoise is an aquarium with cinder blocks or bricks attached to the top and drilled holes in the base for water to escape out of. The tank is lined with Lizard Litter, Sphagnum Moss, a layer of small tiles, or rocks (within the tank) as well as moss on either side and at the top.

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This will create a suitable environment for your pet tortoise where it can enjoy humidity while being safe from heat stroke!

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Due to their solitary nature, tortoises have the instinct to hide in a humid burrow or similar hiding place. Usually, a small plastic box, either lidded or open like a tub with plenty of holes on sides, can serve as a hide box for a tortoise. Moreover, don’t forget to provide a ramp for easy entry of your tortoise.

How to turn it out in a humid hide? Well, for this purpose, you have to embed its bottom with sphagnum dampened moss or something like that up to one or two-inch. After that, park this hidden box in a warm place for the sake of creating a well humid chamber.

Why Does a Tortoise Need a Humid Hide?

A tortoise needs a humid hide for their well-being. A hide box should be sphagnum dampened moss or something similar from the bottom up to one or two inches and when it is in a warm place, it will create an environment that provides a perfect habitat for its lifetime.

If you are still not sure if you need a humid hide for your tortoise, here is a list of 6 reasons why you should consider creating one.

  • 1. Tortoises are reclusive, docile, and shy land-dwellers that need a humid hiding place to thrive in.
  • 2. A good hide box will allow your pet tortoise easy access into their new home as well as provide them with the perfect habitat for their body functioning.
  • 3. A humid hide allows your tortoise’s warm humid chamber which can bring up  the humidity levels to its body.
  • 4. Tortoises are known for their ability to adapt to extreme changes in habitat and survival which is why a hide box or humid burrow will help you keep them out of the harsh environment they have been exposed to which may be harmful to their health.
  • 5. A Tortoise needs a humid burrow or humid hide to feel secure and protected.
  • 6. When you provide your pet tortoise with a humid hide, it will thrive in the moist chamber which is a very common need for all tortoises even though they are known to be able to survive without humid hides and burrows.

The primary reason why tortoises need a humid hide is to keep them cool in the summer, and warm during winter. They want to feel secure and protected which is why it’s important to give them humid hides that are made of soft materials they can bury themselves in such as hay, soft soil etc.

A humid hide allows your tortoise’s warm humid chamber which can bring up the humidity levels to its body while adding moistness year round without risking mold or rot.

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The benefits don’t stop there because when you provide your pet tortoise with a humid hide, you are providing your pet with a place for its skin to breathe and it also helps prevent shell rot.

What Types Of Humid Hides Are There For a Tortoise?

Usually, two types of humid hides are there in practice to ensure an appropriate hiding and housing zone for tortoises. Let’s see what these hides are and how to make them.

1 – Tortoise tables

Tortoise tables work best if they are placed in a warmed room. The open-topped nature of these tables is the reason behind the failure of the provision of a precise air temperature and humidity. Therefore, the room temperature should not be below 72℉.

Best Way To Set Up a Tortoise Table

You can set up an open-top style tortoise table by using a Mercury Vapor Ultra Violet bulb with a secondary heat source like a dark night spot bulb or an infra-red ceramic bulb hanging on support. The floor of the table must harbour sphagnum damped moss and contain a water bowl. 

As for the size of the table, it all depends on your tortoise’s size and life stage. For a baby tortoise the table will be of small size, but don’t forget to increase the area after some years.

MV bulb should remain on during daytime for 12 – 14 hours approximately while dark night spot bulb is suitable for night. In cold weather, if these heat sources are not provided, there is the possibility to disturb your tortoise digestive system. 

MV bulb will allow your tortoise to absorb UVB radiation, leading to the utilization of calcium in his diet to avoid metabolic disturbances. 


  • Inability to create an ambient temperature of the surrounding air
  • Chances of temperature fluctuation with that of the room

2 – Tortoise Vivarium

Tortoise vivarium is somewhat an enclosed wooden box with a door and windows that effectively control environmental conditions. It is the best way to make micro changes regarding temperature and humidity. Moreover, most tortoise owners favour vivarium use.

Best Way To Set Up a Tortoise Vivarium

For the setting of tortoise vivarium, you can use spot bulbs such as ceramic or dark, just like used in tortoise tables. A UV tube light should run the 2/3th length of the enclosure 1-2 feet above the ground level and switch for 12-14 hours during daytime. 

The heat sources must be adjusted by using a thermostat so that the middle enclosure temperature stays at about 82℉. One of the major issues of closed tortoise vivarium is its inability to provide proper ventilation that may risk the rise of bacterial infections. 

Therefore, it is wise to use at least three air vents to ensure proper ventilation. This practice will help you to avoid respiratory distress in your docile companion.


  • It helps to create ambient temperature and humidity of the internal environment
  • Serves as an alternative to the natural habitat of tortoises 
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What Is The Ideal Humidity Level For Tortoises?

The humidity level for tortoises entirely depends upon their species. Different species of tortoise shares different humidity percentages for their optimum functioning and survival. In general, 70-100% is the ideal range of humidity for tortoises.

However, some species like hinged-back tortoises prefer to live in 100% humidity. On the other hand, 50-70%humidity is enough for most pet species and red-footed tortoises. 

You can get a rough idea of the right humid conditions by observing a condensation layer on the glass of your tortoise housing. Otherwise, you have a choice to use a hygrometer to measure exact values.

The humidity must not fluctuate too much as that is not beneficial for the tortoise’s skin and respiratory tract. The levels of humidity must not be more than that of the natural habitat.

There are various ways to control humidity levels in your tortoise housing. You can use a humid hide for your tortoise placed in a shallow bath of water. You can keep a tray full of moisture-retaining substrate like sphagnum moss or vermiculite in it. 

To regulate humidity, you can keep the water bowl full of drinking water (no salt added).

How Can You Increase Humidity In Tortoise Housing?

Sometimes you might need to increase the overall humidity in your tortoise housing. This can be done in a few different ways. Here is a short list of 3 easy and effective ways to increase humidity.

  • Place water bowls inside your tortoise housing (table or vivarium) that will ultimately guide you to monitor humidity levels. If your tortoise spends most of its time inside the water bowl, it will indicate the necessity of more humidity. 
  • Soaked sponges and live plants inside tortoise housing will also help to increase humidity. 
  • Use of timed humidifier or simply mist the housing by spraying in water is also a reasonable effort towards increasing humidity level.

NOTE: Too much humidity without ventilation inside the tortoise housing or hide box is not beneficial as it promotes mildew and mould growth. Therefore, be sure enough to provide proper ventilation by making holes in the enclosure and using air vents.

Is There a Risk Of Pyramiding Because of Humidity?

Nowadays, different rumours about the pyramiding (shell warping) of a tortoiseshell due to humidity are roaming about on the internet. Humidity is not necessarily the cause of pyramiding as it is only one of several factors that can bring it about. 

These include:

  • Poor diet
  • Genetic factor
  • Overfeeding
  • Lack of exercise
  • Thyroid problems
  • Lack of sun-basking

It is in a tortoise instinct to hide inside a humid surface because of its reclusive and solitary nature. So, you need to provide your tortoise with an alternative way to meet its natural requirements. Therefore, the use of a tortoise table and vivarium as a humid hide is appreciated.

If you’re looking to keep your tortoise healthy and happy, one main consideration is the humidity in their habitat as we have now seen. Whether it’s a water bowl or humid hide box, having an appropriate level of humidity can help them thrive while avoiding respiratory distress.

One way to increase the overall levels of humidity is by adding live plants inside the enclosure or housing with sponges so they soak up excess moisture from the air.

It’s also important not to let too much humidity build up without proper ventilation because that will promote mildew and mold growth on surfaces like glass enclosures.

Now it is up to you. Go make a nice humid hide for your pet tortoise if you haven’t already!