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Tortoise Vivarium Reviews and Tests

Part Two - Geko vivarium
Part One - Jon Coote Tortoise Starter Kit
Part Three: Tortoise Table habitat

We have reported concerns about this type of tortoise accommodation before, for example in our comprehensive indoor housing article, but recently we undertook a very detailed series of measurements and conducted the most comprehensive tests  and reviews ever carried out on the different types of indoor habitat available for tortoises.

The second part of this report is now available, and it discusses our findings on the Geko wooden type vivarium with sliding glass doors. We encountered not only problems with performance and quality, but also discovered some critical safety hazards.

Geko Vivarium


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There are two immediate and major concerns with this product. Both concern safety.

  • The electrical safety of the product is the worst we have ever seen. We believe that it is totally unacceptable. The failure to fit appropriate fuses, failure to use cable grips, and hot metal in direct contact with wires carrying 230 volts while lacking adequate heat sheathing is astonishing. This type of defect could result in death to the user and risk of fire.
  • The very poor level of documentation supplied was also unacceptable. A product like this, supplied to its target market of beginners to reptile keeping, needs adequate, clear instructions on how to install it and how to operate it safely. The lack of such instructions with regard to the heat mat, basking lamp and UV tube were particularly worrying. Failure to get this right can result in the injury or death of a tortoise, and certainly with regard to the heat pad, a real danger of fire if overheating occurs. It is inexcusable not to include sufficient instruction on appropriate use.

The overall design of the vivarium also gave rise to a number of more general concerns:

  • There is extremely poor airflow through this unit. This results in severe overheating occurring within a short space of time and a completely unsuitable environment for the maintenance of any tortoise.
  • The extreme temperatures noted are completely unacceptable and could rapidly prove lethal. These are the highest temperatures (over 70 degrees Celsius) we have ever recorded in any vivarium.
  • These defects are both inherent in the fundamental, closed-box design and are likely to be common to all units of this general type and size fitted with similar lighting and heating equipment.
  • The supplied temperature controller is difficult to operate and fails to control the environment adequately.
  • The supplied substrate is in our opinion, not safe or appropriate for the maintenance of tortoises.
  • The UV-B levels achieved are inadequate to ensure satisfactory Vitamin D production.

In our opinion, in its present state, this vivarium is completely unusable. It needs a fundamental re-design. As a minimum, the basking lamp needs to be further away from the  floor, and the whole issue of airflow/ventilation/convection needs to be properly addressed.     

In addition, the issue of electrical safety, quality control and inadequate instructional material also needs to be urgently reviewed.

In the light of this, we now recommend that YOU SHOULD NOT PURCHASE OR USE ANY HABITAT OF THIS DESIGN. If you have purchased this particular model, we urge you to get it checked by a qualified electrician and to contact Trading Standards.

(c) August 2009 Tortoise Trust