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Rain In The Outdoor Enclosures?


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#1 Pickle1983

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 02:26 PM

Hi all,

 

My little one is absolutely loving life outdoors, i've found she's so much more active and alert, just one question though - what do you do when it rains? I've been covering up the wooden shelter she sleeps in at night with plastic sheeting, so that no rain gets inside,this is elevated on bricks too. 

but the soil outside is currently soaked from all the rain, she still comes outside in the day for food and a wander, but i'm worried about shell rot if the wet soil is sticking to her. There are holes in the bottom so the rain water does soak through and out. 

 

What does everyone else do? Currently I've not been putting the light on for her as temps have been relatively warm, was going to wait until it dropped to 10 degrees or below as have read other comments on here. 

 

Thanks all,

Nic



#2 babettebeau

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 05:57 PM

Hi Nic

 

I have two young ones (nearly 3 years old each) outdoors 24/7 since end of May until mid September, and here is what I have done:

 

- A cold frame of 1 square meter in plexiglass sitting on wooden sleepers with heat lamp inside. Lamp on from 7am to 4:30pm when overcast, no sun, rain, and with temp below 20/22 degrees during grey days. The temp in the cold frame is regulated because the roof of the cold frame opens automatically when it is too hot inside. When better weather conditions, heat lamp is on from 7am for about 3 hours. No heat at night regardless the weather.

 

- In rainy weather i make sure the cold frame is the dedicated dried area (expect that i always keep the soil damp the sleeping area where they dig in or hide for the night).

 

- Ground level in cold frame elevated about 10 cm higher than the rest of the enclosure to avoid flooding inside

 

- Soil in enclosure mixed with grit to make it well drained and not muddy.

 

- Hills and rocks in the enclosure to climb on in case they need to escape too much rain (not sure if they do that instinctively though!) and to catch sunrays higher should some sun comes through the clouds.

 

- Small hides (cork barks) and bushes in enclosure to shelter in case they are caught under the rain and too cold to be able move back inside the cold frame.

 

- In bad weather I tend to scatter and hide food closer to the cold frame. In torential weather, I give them access to a less big part of the enclosure so that they don't go too far from the cold frame and it's easier for them to go back quickly inside the cold frame.

 

- I use the app called Dark Sky which gives accurate local weather hour per hour and from what time to what time it is going to rain, how long, heavy or light rain etc / be overcast / UV index etc

 

Tortoises are very aware, they figure out pretty quickly how to use the shelters and heat lamp that we put at their disposal. And yes after basking and being warm enough they have no fear to get out and search for food under heavy rain!

 

I hope this helps.

 

Sabina



#3 Pickle1983

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Posted 17 August 2018 - 10:15 AM

Hi Sabina,

thank you for coming back to me :)

 

The grit idea sounds like a good idea, thank you. I am just slightly worried because I checked this morning and the soil is really wet, so I'm worried about shell rot, could this happen due to the wet soil?

 

She hibernates from October to January so would you recommend just leaving her outdoors until October, with the heat lamp on 7am - 4.30pm from maybe around September time?

What about January when she wakes up? Should I have her indoors and let her out about April time, again with the lamp on 7am - 4.30pm? Should there be no heat at all overnight even after she wakes from hibernation?

I'm getting electrics put in this weekend as the weather will turn before we know it so will need to start to put the lamp on fairly soon i'm guessing. 

 

Thank you!

Nic



#4 babettebeau

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Posted 17 August 2018 - 12:02 PM

Hi Nic

Is that a Hermann tortoise that you have? How old is she and what is the weight? What is the shelter that you have for her outdoors? Do you have a picture of the shelter?

 

I am unfamiliar with shell rot as i am not a long experienced tortoise keeper (i have had my torts for 2 years only). What i know is that in damp wet weather, torts need a dried and hot area when they can stay at their will.

 

Generally speaking in the UK the people who are successful in keeping their tortoises outdoors 24/7 when they are not in hibernation are the ones who have adult tortoises and have a shed (garden house) with anti frost radiators and heat lamps, and with good insulation. Some sheds have glass for light (greenhouses). In the UK young tortoises can't stay outdoors as long as the adults ones. The bigger in mass weight and size they are, the longer they keep heat so more sustainable for adults to manage a life outdoors. Non-adults torts are too small in mass to keep heat longer in colder months and it is adviced that they only stay outdoors from May to September, and the rest of the time is split between indoor life and hibernation.

 

When wake up from hibernation (refregiration method), you put the box out of the fridge in a cool area at around 10-15 degrees for 24 hours to let your tort wake up very slowly and emerge on the surface at its rythm, then you put the box close to a heat source (not under a heat source) to wake up gently a little more and warm up slowly your tort. When your tort is awake and wants to get out of the box then you soak her in luckwarm water for a while for hydration, then you let it go in the indoor enclosure with food and heat lamp to bask and UV.

 

Sabina



#5 Pickle1983

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Posted 21 August 2018 - 03:18 PM

Hi Sabina,

 

Queenie is 10 years old now, she weighs 568g and measures 14cm roughly, so puts her at around 0.20 on the Jackson Ratio. 

 

I have attached pictures of her outdoor enclosure for you, currently she sleeps in the little rabbit hide at night, she tucks herself right into the corner (same corner every night!), I don't have any lighting at the moment for her as she always wakes up as the sun rises over the enclosure and comes out for food, she's out all day until about 17:55, when she then goes off to bed (she's actually like clockwork, everyday at 17:55, my friends didn't believe me at first!)

 

Queenie is due to start her wind down for hibernation in October, then she will come out of hibernation around the first week in January. I was hoping to have her outside all the time, even from January, if i can get the right set up outside. 

Having checked today the soil inside the rabbit hide is quite damp, so sufficient enough for her to dig down. 

 

I just had electrics fitted this weekend in the garden for her, so I can put the heat lamp out soon, just want to make sure I get the right cold frame first. 

 

How far from the ground is your heat lamp? 

 

Thanks, 

Nicola 

Attached Files



#6 babettebeau

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Posted 23 August 2018 - 11:29 AM

Hi Nicole

Queenie is so adorable!!!

 

The rabbit house is unsuitable as shelter in the cold months for several reasons:

1) It is too low to accommodate a heat lamp

2) It is not enough insulated to retain heat

3) it is too small for a tortoise to have some decent activity inside a shelter when it cannot stay out due to the weather

4) it is dark inside and no daylight go through. I think it is nice for a tortoise be in a heated shelter with day light coming through duting cold/bad weather

 

Heat lamp height in my cold frame:

  • The height of the stand from top of it to ground level (excluding the buried part of the stand): 65cm
  • Height between the lowest part of the bulb to ground floor (36cm)
  • When looking into installing a heat lamp, you need a height of about 70-80 cm height, this is to take into account the roof of the shelter, the height of lamp stand, length of lamp dome, length of the hook where the dome will be hung etc...and of course sufficient height so the bulb is not close to the ground level and also to have margin to adjust the lamp higher if needed.
  • There are some cases when heat lamps too close damage and burn the carapace of tortoises when it is too low, because torts will stay under even for a shorter of time but still they get damaged, if that makes sense.

Pictures of set-up

Attached are the pictures of the cold frame fitted in the enclosure of my two babies Hermann.Sorry they are bit dark with this grey weather these days.

 

Also attached are pics of the Greenhouse/enclosure set up for an adult tortoise, as you can see the greenhouse is large and so is the enclosure, this set up allows the tortoise to have a sustainable life outdoors and use the greenhouse as a living space when needed in colder months outside hibernation. This is the set up of Ben. The link of the thread about it is here:http://www.hermann-t...?showtopic=9758 and the pictures are attached. You can see on the pictures that there is a rabbit hutch in the enclosure and how it is compared to a larger set up for living outdoors for long period of time for an adult tortoise. This is quite a striking difference between the greenhouse and the rabbit hutch, and it demonstrates clearly that a rabbit hutch is insufficient to keep an adult tort under shelter outdoors in colder months.

The rabbit hutch is probably fine from May to September with a garden with great sun exposure and a great summer like we had this year, but otherwise it cannot accomodate the physiological needs of a mediteranean tortoise living in the UK.

 

Cold frame information

Also here are some links of cold frames that you can buy in the UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ing-Beckmann-FS2-Model-Frame/dp/B000GWVW8G

https://www.amazon.c...m/dp/B01EX4FI6Y

 

You can also buy the automatic window opener for the cold frame and it opens the top of it according to the temperature, so that the cold frame does not overheat.

https://www.amazon.c...643K2E7XQWSB8TD

https://www.amazon.c...6DZ9DY8CSVED8EB

 

Whole thread on cold frame below. I think we were part of the discussion

http://www.hermann-t...?showtopic=9803

 

Please note that i am unsure if the cold frames in the links i provided on Amazon are good enough to keep torts 24/7 in cold months. 

 

I hope this helps

 

Sabina

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#7 Pickle1983

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 05:28 PM

Hi Sabina,
Yeah she is lovely isn't she!
Thanks so much for your advice, it's a great help.

Thank you,
Nic

#8 wizzasmum

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Posted 23 September 2018 - 11:46 AM

You can’t really use the Jackson ratio for Queenie Nic as she’s not wild grown. Tortoises grown in captivity have different bone densities, so the ratio is not really reliable. Are you sure your scales are correct as I’d expect Queenie to be a little heavier at ten years old? Has she had supplementary heating outdoors since a baby?




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