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Outdoor Enclosure Advice For A Beginner


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#1 tortoise1978

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 09:28 AM

Hi.

We are planning to build an outdoor enclosure for our 8 year old Hermann which he can live in all year (apart from during hibernation). At the moment, he is indoors at night and goes into a temporary enclosure outside during the day. I've read lots on this forum which is really helpful and think we need the following:

1. A predator-proof enclosure with some areas of different substrates and weeds, plants etc. I think we are okay with this bit as there are so many useful pictures on here which we have used for ideas.

2. A house for him to go into at night or when he chooses - this is where we are a bit confused. We were planning an insulated wooden house with a door which can be closed at night so he can go in and out freely during the day. Does it need a heat lamp? If so, what type, what temperature and what height should it be? I've read that a UV lamp won't be necessary - is this right? In his indoor table, he has a UV and heat lamp in one.

3. Location  - we have an area which gets sun from 9-10am until mid-afternoon. Would this be okay?

Thank you

Anna



#2 babettebeau

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 10:54 AM

Hi Anna

I am going to reply to your post over the weekend and post pics for ideas.I have just finished a large secured enclosure for my torts.

Basically i got inspired by the German tortoise keepers. I did lots of research, translation from German to English and put lot of thoughts. Now i know how to say in German tortoises, cold frame, heater, lamp, electrics etc ;-)

 

Also have a look at the thread on Tank's outdoor enclosure, this is a good one too.

 

Tschüß! (Bye!)

Sabina



#3 wizzasmum

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 11:32 AM

Hi.
We are planning to build an outdoor enclosure for our 8 year old Hermann which he can live in all year (apart from during hibernation). At the moment, he is indoors at night and goes into a temporary enclosure outside during the day. I've read lots on this forum which is really helpful and think we need the following:
1. A predator-proof enclosure with some areas of different substrates and weeds, plants etc. I think we are okay with this bit as there are so many useful pictures on here which we have used for ideas.
2. A house for him to go into at night or when he chooses - this is where we are a bit confused. We were planning an insulated wooden house with a door which can be closed at night so he can go in and out freely during the day. Does it need a heat lamp? If so, what type, what temperature and what height should it be? I've read that a UV lamp won't be necessary - is this right? In his indoor table, he has a UV and heat lamp in one.
3. Location  - we have an area which gets sun from 9-10am until mid-afternoon. Would this be okay?
Thank you
Anna


He will really thank you for not taking him in and out, as they have a much better idea than us humans what is the best tortoise climate. Make your covered area tall enough to take a heat/ basking source and only use it on bad weather days or very early in the morning to get him going. No, you don't need uvb as the sun provides plenty for the times they go outdoors. You can still use a calcium/d3 supplement which ensures they get enough calcium. All day sun is best, but yours will be fine, especially with back up lamps. Switch the lamps off around 4pm.

#4 tortoise1978

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:41 PM

Thank you. That's helpful. I'd love to see your photos Sabina and I'll look at the thread on Tank's enclosure. Should the heat lamp be set at any particular temperature?
Anna

#5 babettebeau

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 08:22 PM

Basically the heat to measure is the one at ground level under the lamp where the tort will bask. Basically how hot the surface of the ground is under the lamp.

So the way to adjust the heat lamp is by adjusting the height position of the lamp/bulb. A laser thermostat will be give the temp of heat at ground level.

Sabina

#6 babettebeau

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 08:24 PM

Optimal temp is 30-32 degrees celcius under the heat lamp
Sabina

#7 babettebeau

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 04:27 PM

Hi Anna

Here are the pictures of the enclosure

 

https://goo.gl/photo...vYyR7qxafWhPjf6

 

Sabina



#8 pompeypoole

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 04:57 PM

Great pics and enclosure. Be even better when you plant it up.

#9 tortoise1978

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Posted 04 June 2017 - 05:51 PM

Wow, that looks amazing. Thanks Sabina. Where did you get your lamp/which one is it?
Thanks again,
Anna

#10 babettebeau

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Posted 04 June 2017 - 08:51 PM

Hi Anna

The lamp is one for infra red heat bulbs.
The bulb is an infra red heat bulb clear colour 100MW

These two items are used for heating animals like chicks, piglets, puppies. Also suitable for torts as long as the bulb is 100MW, not more MW than that.

For tortoise this is used during the day, not for the night.

The one I bought is too big and therefore too low/too close to the ground, so I would not recommend this one. I have to send it back.

If you google infra red heat lamp for chicks, piglets, puppies you will find plenty of lamps and bulbs.

I hope this helps.

Sabina



#11 tortoise1978

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 07:08 PM

Thanks Sabina. That's really helpful. Do you have a different lamp for the night?

#12 babettebeau

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Posted 06 June 2017 - 07:56 PM

Hi Anna

In addition to the pig lamp/bulb, I use the following:

Background heater - Connected to thermostat. For when it is too cold on days or nights. Basically if the temps fall down below 10 degrees Celsius at night in the cold frame and also when too cold for their physiology during the day.
https://www.amazon.c...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

 

40W Infrared ceramic heater /heat emitter for heat on ground at night. On when temps fall below 10 degrees Celcius at night. It will be off during the day. I will put it in one corner in the cold frame. This bulb emits no light, it is a flat bulb made of ceramic.
http://www.exo-terra...amic_heater.php

 

 

The cold frame has a piston which opens its roof automatically if it is too hot inside. Starts to open gradually from 17-25 degrees celcius, then opens to a max of 45cm when reaching 30 degrees celcius. You might want to make research on that if this is something that you might need. 

 

If you are interested in aluminium cold frames, below is a link of what i have found when i was looking for one

https://www.amazon.c...d=3GZ0G8XY9RW40

 

I think the piston that goes with the cold frames in the amazon link above is this one

https://www.amazon.c...VA5DTR80161J0R1

 

The brand of the cold frame is Beckmann, it is a German brand, so these cold frames are supposed to be good quality.

 

The cold frame needs to be raised on wooden sleepers or stable bricks, about 20cm high and with a very obvious way-in/way-out for the tortoises. As a door for the way-in/way out you can put strips of clear plastic curtain.

 

The roof of the cold frame must be protected when opened to avoid predator intrusions.

 

In the cold frame I will put a couple of plants for shade and a piece of bark and keep it damp everyday. . 

As hides outside the cold frame i will use large pieces of wood bark until my humidity huts made of soil, roots and grass are ready. Wood bark is good to retain humidity and the pieces will be suitable if they want to feel safe in a tight hide when they want to rest.

 

And of course, a water dish in the cold frame and more than one water dish in the enclosure outside the cold frame. "Water is life" even for a tortoise.

Sabina



#13 tortoise1978

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 07:07 PM

Thanks so much for these links and for all your help Sabina. There is so much to think about but I feel like we are getting there now so thank you!
Anna

#14 babettebeau

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 08:23 PM

You are welcome Anna.
For timers and thermostats, you can follow the thread called "Outdoor Heating & Lighting" started by Tommy.
Sabina

#15 babettebeau

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 03:20 PM

Hello

 

This is the thermostat i am looking at for my electric heater in the cold frame.

It enables to set a temp on days and a temp at night. For now temps are fine on days and nights, so it will be used for later or if a big weather change happens during the summer.

Have you came across it? What do you think about it? It has good reviews on Amazon. 

https://www.amazon.c...lays thermostat

 

Thank you

 

Sabina



#16 babettebeau

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:08 AM

Good morning

This is how I protected the rooftop of the cold frame when the roof opens automatically during the day.

The roof top closed at night.

 

Have a good day

 

Sabina

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#17 Germanlady

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:00 AM

Hi there,

I am curious about how it looks like with plants and weeds. How many Hermanns have you got?

Is there a dark "sleeping house" in the cold frame - or where do the Hermanns sleep at night or when the weather is bad?

 

Greets

Germanlady



#18 wizzasmum

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:56 AM

Hi there,
I am curious about how it looks like with plants and weeds. How many Hermanns have you got?
Is there a dark "sleeping house" in the cold frame - or where do the Hermanns sleep at night or when the weather is bad?
 
Greets
Germanlady



Not Sabina, but I always encourage my torts to dig down as they would in nature rather than giving them dark hides.

#19 babettebeau

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 11:53 AM

Hello Germanlady

My tortoises are still young (2.5 years old), still babies.

From May to September they live outdoors 24/7 in their enclosure. They choose where to sleep and the majority of the time the sleep in the cold frame under a cork bar a little digged in. The cold frame has heat lamp and timer. I can also switch on/off the lamp with my phone remotely.

In the outdoor enclosure there arr plants that are not poisoning and that they don't like to eat. I don't leave weeds growing in the enclosure that they can eat otherwise they will eat to much and grow too fast. In the UK weeds grow fast and in abundance.

Outside this time period and outside hibernation, they are in their indoor enclosure (2.2 meters by 1.4 meters, L shape) with soil substrate and also cococoir substrate and they dig in to sleep. But sometimes they don't dig and in that case I cover them with the humid substrate when they sleep.

Sabina

#20 Germanlady

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 05:39 PM

I´ve been to Greece and Spain in several places where tortoises live. In the early morning I could see them leaving their place where they were hidden at night. They were hidden unter large stones, but most often under bushes, thorny bushes. At midday when it is hot, they shelter in the same places und in the evening they go again under the bushes. I´ve never found them buried. Perhaps then they are not to be seen, hahahaha. Well, I believe it is o.k., if they dig themselves in the ground. My tortoises can do that, too. But usually they do it, if they do, in the dark wooden house which is as large as half of the cold frame. Sometimes, especially in autumn, they prefer to sleep outside in the wettest places. They dig really holes in the little hills in their encosure and they look great (dirty) the following day. Sometimes they stay in these holes for several days even if the weather is rather good, good to come out.

When your Hermanns sleep under the cork bar, it is also a darker place with a shelter from above.

Here in Germany some tortoise keepers use cococoir just as you. I don´t know why. Neither in Greece nor in Spain the tortoises live where coconut trees are. I tried cococoir years ago and I had thousands of little flies coming out of it. So I never tried again.

I hatched some eggs from 1995 till 2010. The babies and all my adult Hermanns have had always something to eat. Even in the little enclosure for the babies I planted eatable weeds and fed the babies dayly, if it was necessary. In nature they can also walk around and eat a bit here and eat a bit there and they are not fat and they grow much slowlier than in our enclosures. Of course, you are right, in our enclosures it is easier for them to eat and eat and perhaps it is boring for them and so they eat more. Yes, I admit, my babies grew faster than those in nature. But they are well shaped, healthy and look good. They had their days or times without food, when the weather forced them to take a break. You remember, I have no heating or artificial light. The same with the adults. A lot of weeds grow in their enclosures and I feed them, if necessary with weeds I collected outside. But they still can have a bite here and there when they are strolling around. That is, what I like so much, when I´m watching them. They can behave like in nature - I hope. At least a little bit.

 

So, your little ones and perhaps the older ones, too, have a really smooth carapax? Totally? Because you pay much attention to a humid sleeping place? Interesting, please let me know. Thanks.






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