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outdoor enclosure advice pls
Posted: 24/03/2017 by rassy70


I am quite new to tortoise keeping, we have owned 2 horsefields since April 16... Mr Snapper and Shelby... 2 little characters. We have a indoor set up (I tried to attach a photo to this post but got an error message), which the tortoises seem happy in. 

This summer I would like to get them living outside. Our garden is not great with regards to faces north. So I have a spot I think will be suitable, but it won't have great sun all summer, there's not much I can do about this though!. The ground where the enclosure will go is block paved, and drains fine (never pools water during heavy rain)... I'm thinking of building the enclosure perimeter out of railway sleepers or maybe scaffold boards, this will help give the enclosure some depth, so the tortoises have enough soil to dig into... and the block paving at the bottom will keep them from digging out. I'll make sure the sleepers are high enough to prevent the tortoises from looking out and wanting to escape. I have a dog, and there are cats, foxes etc around, so plan on putting a wire mesh lid over the top of the enclosure. With regards to housing, I was thinking of a wooden tortoise hutch. 

I'm interested in any comments on my thoughts up to now - are my plans sounding ok or is there anything any of the experienced tortoise keepers think that's not right... you would be better doing this abc...? The bit I can't get in my head, is heating and lighting to the outdoor hutch. My current thinking is:

1. Night time: Tubular heater, set on thermostat, to 15-20C. So time clock and thermostat control. I'll be closing them in the hutch to make sure they are safe from night preditors.

2. Daytime: basking lamp, on time clock and thermostat. My thinking here, is that if it's a dull summer day and the enclosure cools down, the tortoises can go and warm up under the light. I will get a cold frame too, so they can use that if they want.

3. I'm not sure if this idea is correct, but because my garden is not south facing, would it be a good idea to install a UVB tube within the outdoor hutch? So the tortoises get the UVB benefit, when they are warming up and due to my garden not getting great direct sun? Or is this overkill/a daft idea?  

I'd really appreciate your thoughts on my ideas, as I don't want to get it wrong for them. 

The only other things I'm unsure on, is does the outdoor hutch need to be insulated, or does that not matter to much? and timeclock/thermostat controls, does anyone know of any that will be suitable? Oh and heater output ratings, would say a 100W tubular heater (night) and 100W basking lamp (day) be ok? 

I think that's everything... any advice and recommendations would be greatly received. 

Many thanks, Ryan

Re: outdoor enclosure advice pls
Posted: 24/03/2017 by

Hello Ryan,

Scaffold boards are a good idea. I'd get a walk in polytunnel, given the lack of sun. Place it on the N. end of the enclosure. Shut them out in warm weather.
It would be easier to set up heat/light in the latter, but take advice from a 'pro'.
I'd use a 100W Megaray UVB bulb.

Keep the soil in the poly' dry for reasons you'll be aware of. Heat is not needed at night in summer as healthy horsfields are very hardy. You can provide a 'hutch' as well, I'd put twin wall polycarbonate [or Plexiglass] on top & straw as a substrate.

Experiment !


Re: outdoor enclosure advice pls
Posted: 24/03/2017 by rassy70

Thanks for getting back Tom,

I'll look around for a polytunnel. When you say shut them out in warm weather, do you mean shut them out of the polytunnel (so they don't overheat?)? or take them out of the indoor table and shut them in the outdoor enclosure? I was hoping to leave them outside 100% from say April to Aug/Sept - would this be ok? 

And do you mean set up a heat/light in the hutch? I have the combined bulb in the indoor set up - I thought a separate heat/UV tube would be better if on a thermostat or would you just put it on a timeclock so it's on in the hutch during daytime? 

That's interesting that they don't need heat at night, is there a min outdoor temperature that they can stay out in? I've no prob experimenting... just want to make sure it's right and I don't end up doing something that kills them off lol. 

I need to read up on hibernating, when the time comes and may need advice on this. The misses does not want me to do it, in case they don't wake back up...

Oh, and if I give you their weight/measurement, would you be able to estimate their age? 

Thanks, Ryan 

Re: outdoor enclosure advice pls
Posted: 25/03/2017 by

No prob. Ryan,

Para 1. Look online.
Out of poly t'. 
From late April to late Sept if adult.

2. In the poly t' I suggest, as difficult to set up in a hutch. Operate manually or 'clock, as I said experiment, there are no rules.

3. No min. temp at night in summer if in hutch or poly t'.

4. Hibe. info. click on "The Tortoise" box.

5. Too many variables - keep wt records & over a few years, this will give you a good idea of their age.


Re: outdoor enclosure advice pls
Posted: 25/03/2017 by rassy70

Thanks for your advice Tom 👍


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