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Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 01/06/2010 by ToniJade

Hi All, I am new on here although I have been taking lots of advice from your site for some weeks now and it has been invaluable.

I have a 9 month old spur thigh who is kept in a tort table indoors but I am in the process of getting an outdoor enclosure made. It will have wood around the sides and mesh on top. I have found a little wooden hut that I plan to use as shelter and I have ordered a weed mix to create a natural environment.

My only concern is that will it be warm enough for him during the day (we still intend to bring him in at night)? Does anyone provide any extra heating? Or create an area, like a greenhouse/coldframe that will act as a basking area? or am I worrying too much? I would like to be able to leave him out between 9-3 most days when the weather is nice but I can imagine myself coming home at lunchtime worrying that the little fella is getting cold!

Anyway he seems a happy little chap at the moment, we bath him every day and although he isnt eating much we are trying to wean him off the pellets and feed lots of dandelions, pansies etc but he doesnt seem to be eating much at the moment. I know a few other people seem to have posted threads with these kinds of problems so I am going to try not to worry too much about that too as at least he is eating something.



Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 02/06/2010 by tortoise7

Click and drag me down to the editorToni

Sounds like you are really getting to grips with being a tortoise keeper!
The weather is so changable and only being a hatchling they do loose body heat very quickly, so you are right to provide some extra heat if they need it. A cold frame or greenhouse is perfect. Personally I have ceramic bulbs set up on a thermastat, so that I can keep the temps to at least 22 ambient temps. I also have basking lights that are on timers, this is because I work full time. I do have to watch the weather reports quite closey, and have to keep resetting the light timers to come on at different times, or turn the heating off.  Hopefully the weather will be a bit more consistent so I don't have to worry. You have an added advantage that you only leave them for 5 hrs a day so you can control things alot easier.
Hope this helps and hasn't confused you further
Jane , Keya & Molly


Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 02/06/2010 by DavidWYork

There are some really useful mini greenhouses/cloches on ebayClick and drag me down to the editor.

Also my local garden centres have plenty available. The ones with "soft " sides can easily have flaps cut in them  to allow easy access by torts...they very soon get used to them, and they really do raise temps significantly, even on dull days, and when raining. Bright sheltered areas can usefully deter torts them for bedding down for the day and then not getting enough UV rays.. Try measuring using a max/min thermometer over a few days. As long as the cloche is only part of the outdoor enclosure...torts do need to be able to choose the temp best for them, and mine regularly seeks real cold or shady spots! Don't have the whole enclosure covered ... and at the same temperature. Torts soon select the best place for themselves to be, I have found that as long as the warm up zone is just outside where they sleep, and receives earliest possible morning sun to start their day off, then this helps. Once at optimal temperature, they have the energy to be able to move to the site that suits them best. I hope this proves useful...and  we get a good summer!!

Best wishes from David in York

Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 03/06/2010 by ToniJade

Thanks both for your replies.

I will keep a close eye on the forcast and hope that we get lots of nice weather like today. On wet or rainy days, as he is so young I will keep him in but just need a bit of shelter and warmth for when the weather is changeable.

The enclosure is only 100cm by 140cm, the height is 40cm but some of this will be dug down into the ground. I had a look at my local garden centre and ebay to see if I could find a really small polytunnel/coldframe etc but they were all too big (not sure how easy it is to make them smaller). I did however see a plastic bell shaped thing (great description) that you pop over invidual plants. Do you think this might work if I cut an opening in them and placed one or two in different areas? it wouldnt work for a bigger tort but hopefully by then I will have a larger area of the garden for the little fella. The other idea that I had was to cover a quarter of the enclosure with a plastic cover so as to increase the heat retention and also give a bit more shelter. What do you think?

Wouldnt it be lovely if someone were to design the perfect outdoor enclosure and pop them on ebay for us all to buy :-)  

Cant wait until my enclosure and weed seed mix arrive!

Thanks again for your help




Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 03/06/2010 by DavidWYork

Hello again, and regarding the providing of warming areas in outdoor enclosures...I note that in my local garden centre there are some very cheap seed tray covers which may do, if cut carefully and given plastic bag cat flaps. However my favoured  suggestion is to  have a good look around Tesco, Sainsbury or Morrison stores in chilled fridges. There are so many clear trays or containers which products are displayed or delivered in which get thrown away, and  are able to be cut and stapled to produce a mini greenhouse structure. Lots of fruit/ veg boxes have bubble wrap, which is thrown away...collect it. Whilst they will not be UV efficient, they are thermally excellent, and create warm micro climates for torts...and cost nothing! Years ago I constructed a "tortoise cloche" out of the clear plastic our new bed was delivered in! My torts fed naturally for about an extra 10% of the summer period in a free hot house area! Be inventive and is all too easy to spend mega bucks,  when pence might suffice!

Very best wishes from York

Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 04/06/2010 by ToniJade

What a brilliant idea, I will have a look this weekend and let you know how I get on. My weed seed mix has arrived this morning so Im going to go and plant that now. The enclosure wont be ready now until Monday but I want to get everything sorted so that he can use it straight away :-)

Thanks for your help


Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 07/06/2010 by ToniJade

Hi, Just wanted to show you some pics of oscar's new outdoor enclosure. We are really pleased with it. Ive used the seed tray as you suggested which has worked well. We have also added some plastic to the doors and windows of his little house to make it warmer for him and sprinkled some weed seed mix around so that he will have a nice selection of weeds to munch on. Thanks for all your ideas, it has really helped.

Im not sure if I have managed to add the photos to this post but I will keep trying if it doesnt come through.

Toni and Jade

Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 08/06/2010 by DavidWYork

Wow, it looks good!

 It will soon "green up" with your plantings. Leave plenty of open ground for basking and wandering.Your tort is luckier than most...he will be getting natural UV rays and a proper day/night routine with the best food available...I wish I had been able to seek advice 40 yrs ago when I started. I now would have 4-5 seed trays planted up at weekly intervals to ensure continuity of supply during main season, or an area of your garden or lawn dedicated to tort food. Plant weed seeds in turf and cut areas in rotation to allow natural, I would still be inclined to include a propagator top or plastic/ perspex covered area for warming on days lacking full sun. Try cutting a Tesco plastic shoe storing box or similar, to act like a mini greenhouse. Tort will soon move out if too hot! Keep us posted on progress, we need to spread best ideas as widely as possible. Many ideas cost pence not pounds...some are free! (my favourites!)    David in York

Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 09/06/2010 by ToniJade

Thanks, we are really pleased with it and the little man seems to love it also.

I have put a plastic seed tray lid just in front of his little home to act as a mini greenhouse. He doesnt appear to have used it yet but I am also on the look out for something a bit bigger as this was the biggest that I could find. I have cut a 'door' in it and put slips of plastic hanging down to keep the heat in a bit. I will keep looking as I am worried that he will get cold but he has only been out for short periods of time at the moment. I need to have another good look around tesco :-).

We have got a couple of pots of weeds and pansies going at the moment so i am hoping that this will last through the winter if covered. he doesnt seem to be eating much at all but was fed on the tortoise pellets before we got him so we are trying to wean him off them and now he is having hardly any but still reluctant to eat too much. Hopefully this will change when he gets to go outside more. Fingers crossed for some nice weather.



Re: Outdoor Enclosure
Posted: 17/06/2010 by VivTPG

Wow, love his enclosure, well doneClick and drag me down to the editor



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