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Living Outdoors Permantly - Eek!


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#1 Pickle1983

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 11:53 AM

Hi all,

I am looking to move Queenie outside more permanently this year. i've been wanting to do this for some time but always been quite nervous, but i understand how important it is for her.

 

Shes 8 years old and had her first successful hibernation at the end of last year. Normally in the summer months i have been putting her outside in her enclosure, but then bringing her in once the sun goes down back into her indoor enclosure. I know this isnt ideal as it doesn't help to regulate her body temperate, hence the need to get her outside full time.

 

I have some questions i was hoping you could help with, I've read a few of the other comments on here but just wanted clarity please. 

i have an outdoor enclosure, it has a mixture of top soil and soil that i buy from Pets At Home, there is a large water bowl for her to drink out of daily and it has a chicken wire cover over it to stop predators.

i am going to buy a wooden rabbit hide house for her to go into in the evening, once the sun sets.

  • Do i need extra heating / light for her overnight? if so can you recommend anything please. 
  • On days that the weather is unpredictable (rain etc) is it still ok to leave her outside? Can she still stay out overnight? what sort of temps should i be looking at bringing her inside?

Currently when indoors Queenie has a Megaray bulb, attached to a clamp, which i put on in the morning & turn off when the sun sets, would this work outdoors or do i need something in particular?

 

sorry for the long post, anything you can do to help will be much appreciated!

 

thanks,

Nic

 



#2 wizzasmum

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 09:50 PM

Hi Nic
Well done on making this move for Queenie, she will appreciate it. No, you dont need heating for overnight, except possibly background heat in the form of a frost protected on a thermostat once September comes. Not over the summer though, this will encourage natural digging in. Yes, you can leave her out when it rains so long as she has an area with a heat lamp to retreat to. Outdoors you dont need a Megaray, just a heat lamp as she will get uvb from the sun.
Hope this helps, do get back to us if youve still got any concerns ;)

#3 babettebeau

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 09:13 AM

Hi Nic,

 

I can give you ideas from how I keep my babies Hermann outdoors.

 

Shelter:  you can get a plexiglass cold frame from Beckmann on amazon. Here is the link of one I put on the forum last year: https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/B000GWVW8G

 

You put the cold frame on bricks or wooden sleepers (max height recommended 20cm) and leave a very obvious way-in /way/out for the tort.

 

Also useful to have the ground level where the cold frame is a bit elevated in case of heavy rain. So that no flooding inside the cold frame.

 

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

 

In the cold frame you can add plants, hides, water dish, cactus  etc

 

Make sure the cold frame top is closed at night. Also you can protect it with a net all the time as well. For example like in the pictures attached at the bottom.

 

The cold frame will provide a warm dried area which is required for torts in the UK. The tort will quickly know how to use it and stay in it or come out as it pleases.

 

Heat lamp:

The heat lamp is in the cold frame.

I use either a megaray that comes from their indoor enclosure or an infra red bulb of 100W. You will need a lamp dome as well.

Infrared bulb link:

https://www.amazon.c...d pig lamp 100w.

 

To suspend the bulb and lamp dome I use a lamp stand ( http://www.megaray.c...tand-p-135.html) and plant it deep into the soil in the cold frame for stability. Adjust height to get 30-32 degrees Celsius on ground.

 

Use of heat lamp:

During good days leave lamp on in mornings and then with the sun the tort will warm up by using sun rays.

During rainy days, dull days, cold days leave heat lamp on all day and the tort will use it as needed

 

At night, no need to provide heat during warm months. For example I do not provide background heat at night from May to September because there is no frost during these months. The babies sleep either in the cold frame or outside in the enclosure.

 

Please note that generally speaking the keepers who have ADULT ONLY tortoises leave their tortoises outdoors from when they come out of hibernation in spring to when they enter in hibernation in autumn, so basically the ADULT torts are never in indoor enclosures, but these keepers have a suitable set-up: heat lamps + heating in well insulated sheds or greenhouses for the cold months before spring/after summer.

 

At 8 years old your tortoise (but depends on your experience with your tort) should be able to hibernate over the whole winter. Also, if you are able to provide the proper set up for ADULT torts (as described above), your tort's life outdoors can be sustainable when it is not in hibernation. I will leave Sue, Karen or German Lady and others to comment on that because they have adult tortoises and way more experience than I do.

 

Sabina

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#4 wizzasmum

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 10:07 AM

Lovely info Sabina. Would you mind me using these links on a Facebook group please?

#5 babettebeau

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 12:24 PM

Yes please go ahead, the more useful info out there the better for the torts and keepers  :thumbup:



#6 wizzasmum

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 06:15 PM

Thank you. I’m so impressed with your enclosure Sabina. Well thought out with the tortoises uppermost in mind :)

#7 Pickle1983

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 06:58 PM

Hi both, wow! Thank you so much for your comments. Thats such a great help, Im really looking forward to getting Queenie outside full time. She absolutely loves it in the sun!
Ill take all comments on board, Im going to start on the outdoor enclosure this weekend, so if I have any other questions Ill let you know.

Thanks again,
Nic

#8 babettebeau

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 09:45 AM

There is also this smaller model of aluminium cold frame on amazon. 

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

 

Sabina



#9 Pickle1983

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 06:56 AM

Morning all,
So I did a bit of investigating and looking for the best thing for Queenie.
For the actual enclosure I found a wooden one from Pets At Home, Ill be getting some strong wood to use as a base which will be securely attached to the run, so it has a bottom.
I also plan on putting a barrier around it, so she cant see outside of it as I know this causes distress.

http://www.petsathom...g-run?orderBy=1

I then want to get the rabbit hide (attachement below) for her to go into at night, Ill use the Megaray light I normally use indoors (as Sabina says she does the same) and put the light on early in the morning for an hour or 2, from 7am-8.30ish as the sun comes in the garden by 9-9:30am

https://www.amazon.c...i_75T2AbJ7P7S1K

Does this sound ok? From What sort of temp would you be looking at keeping the light on longer or all day? From autumn time?

Thanks!
Nic

#10 wizzasmum

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 11:12 AM

To be honest Nic, this wont work. The wire run will mean that Queenie will be able to see out and so wont perceive the barrier as a barrier. She will constantly try to escape it which will be stressful. She needs solid sides built onto a soil area. The hutch is fine as a temporary garden shelter but wont give you enough height to add lamps Im afraid. It would be quite an expensive mistake to make. Not many pet outlets have anything suitable for tortoises, even those that say they are tortoise specialists.

#11 babettebeau

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 11:18 AM

Hi Nic
 
Wooden base: I am unsure if I understand correctly, do you mean a wooden base laid underground below rabbit run? If yes, it is best to put chicken wire underground about 20-30cm deep. Wire is better for water drainage and to avoid rot, and deep wire in the soil is ok for for your tort to naturally dig in the ground for the night or to thermoregulate. You can also dig in a bit the rabbit run and add bricks around it like in the picture attached to protect from intruders lifting the rabbit run or digging through and get in.
 
Visual barrier around the rabbit run: Yes indeed you will need to put a visual barrier around the run, for example a wooden lawn edge (20cm high) will do the job, see picture at the bottom.
 
Rabbit run / space: If you have enough space you might want to get more than one large rabbit run and connect them to make the enclosure bigger for you tortoise. The reality is 1.2m by 1.2m is a suitable living space for babies torts. But if this is the only option of size this is better than nothing.
Some keepers with adult tortoises are able to give the whole use of the garden and these adult tortoises are free range in an very safe/very escape proof garden. But see picture below for idea of space.
 
Rabbit house: it will need to have no bottom so that the tort can dig in ground. So discard the bottom when you assemble it. I am afraid the rabbit house is too low and too small to add a heat lamp to warm up during day time. See next comment just below for more details.
 
Heat lamp in the rabbit house: given the height of a rabbit house the bulb will be too close to the ground, and temp at ground level will be well above optimum one it 30-32 degrees Celsius. Also too small in size. Basically too hot for the tort to use it.
 
Cold months in UK (more or less mid September to end of April): To keep tortoises during cold months before they hibernate and after they wake up my common sense tells me that you will need a set-up like the one I described in my previous reply for adult tortoises (large shed/greenhouse with heat lamp, heater, properly insulated). A rabbit house even with heat is insufficient for this time period. A large shed/greenhouse is required for the tortoise to have a living space during this time period, move and thermoregulate (move away from the heat lamp). See picture attached below for the example of set-up for adult torts.
 
Warm months in UK :  no heat needed during night. During day time, heat lamp switched on needed in morning and also on bad weather.
 
Other considerations:
What is the ground of the enclosure made of? What kind of vegetation grows in it?
Do you need ideas about what kind of plants you can put in the enclosure outdoors?
 
Please see attached photo of a very good enclosure that can give you some ideas.
 
I hope all this makes sense. 
 
Thanks
 
Sabina

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#12 NANACAZ

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 05:11 PM

Hi I also found it hard to put my tort outside but she is a lot happier. I have put pics of the enclosure to see if it helps nothing too elaborate she has full access to our garden as we have made sure it is tort proof, they are fantastic escape artist.. it is always an ongoing process. the feedback and knowledge of this site is fantastic although I do get a little confused too.. lol think its my age... :rolleyes:

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#13 Pickle1983

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 06:16 PM

Hi all,
Sorry for delay in replying! Queenie has been living outdoors now for about 3 weeks and has adjusted really well to life outside.
Only one problem, I came home today, after a torrential down pouringi of rain, to find her enclosure is drenched, the soil is soaking wet and it’s got inside her hot house :-(
Any advice on what to do? I don’t want her sleeping on wet soil overnight but can’t bring her in as she lives outdoors now.
Thanks al

#14 babettebeau

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Posted 30 May 2018 - 06:08 AM

Hello

You can make the ground level of the hot house higher than the ground level of the enclosure by adding more soil in the hot house. For example I made it about 10cm higher in the hot house of my babies. This will create a slope at the entrance of the hot house.

Also do you have a heat lamp in the hot house, because that will help to dry the soil and a heat lamp is a necessity for a tort outdoors.

Do you have pictures of the enclosure, the hot house and inside the hot house?

Thank you

Sabina




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